Recruiting for Racial Diversity

Nov 27
Championing diversity and strengthening inclusion will benefit your organisation and everyone it supports. But getting it right takes time, dedication and careful planning. 
Promoting diversity and inclusion has been a top priority for many organisations this year, but it's clear that there is still a long way to go.

According to Charity Connect, “the proportion of chief executives who identify as black, Asian, minority ethnic or "other" (rather than white) has risen only slightly from 12 per cent in 2017 to 16 per cent today.”

We hosted a webinar in November to discuss different ways that charities and NGOs can reach a richer pool of applicants and commit to diverse representation across their organisations.

We were joined by Amelia Lee and Ruksana Uddin from Charity People. Ruksana Uddin has over ten years of experience in recruitment and is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion across the sector.

Amelia Lee leads Charity People’s Fundraising and Marketing recruitment team. She is also their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion lead and works closely with organisations to promote equality at all levels. 

We were also joined by Malcolm John, the founder of a campaign called and Action for Trustee Racial Diversity UK, and has served on trustee boards for over 8 years.

Understanding the challenges

A diverse workforce is a fundamental part of any thriving organisation. It’s an opportunity to bring in new people with different skills, life experiences and fresh perspectives. 

One of the biggest problems, as Malcolm says, is that “Most charities don’t actually know what diversity and inclusion really means, or reflected on what it means for them.”

Ruksana agrees: "At the moment it’s trendy to do diverse recruitment but do you actually know what that looks like. Have you actually thought it through?”
It’s important to sit down as an organisation and figure out exactly what diversity and inclusion really means to you in practice, and identify your own gaps and blindspots. You should also think about the different ways improving your approach could positively impact your organisation. 

Malcolm says: “Diversity is all about drawing on a pool of skills that you haven’t traditionally drawn from before.”

It's always best to start off with an action plan that sets out what exactly you hope to achieve and how you’re going to do it.
It's vital that any longterm goals have the support from the Chair and CEO of the organisation. From his experience working on trustee boards, Malcolm knows better than anyone that.

"Change has to come from the top, otherwise it won’t happen."

Start early

It’s not a quick fix. Diverse recruitment takes more time, energy and investment. You'll have to rethink your recruitment strategies and find new and inventive ways to advertise.

Amelia Lee says it's important to start as early as possible.

“Don’t wait until you have a recruitment need, start reaching out to organisations now."

Be genuine 

Diversity and inclusion is not just a recruitment problem. Change should be embedded in every part of your organisation. Amelia Lee says “We need to think about this issue in a different way. It’s not just a process to find a candidate, it’s a whole culture change.”

Start by making sure your existing workplace is as inclusive as possible. Put time and effort into celebrating and education their current employees, and fostering a work environment that truly expresses the change you want to see in the sector.

It's not just about hiring someone. Make sure you know what you're going to do with them once they've joined your team.

This is also an opportunity to engage with this team and come together as an organisation. Use your existing workforce to put together a list of commitments around diversity and inclusion that everyone can get on board with. 

It’s all in the little steps. It's important to keep in mind that systemic change won’t happen overnight

Shake up the status quo

If your current process isn’t working, it’s time to change course. One of the most common mistakes when it comes to diverse recruitment is failing to see where you're going wrong. If you stick to conventional channels you're going to keep getting the same kinds of candidates.

So think about the places your advertising jobs and reach out to new organisations and networks. Look for newsletters, social media channels and tap into local communities. Draw on people and groups you already work with. As always, this outreach will take longer and require more research on your part, so plan that in.

Action for Trustee Racial Diversity has a brilliant data base of black and asian groups and organisations. 

Small Changes

There are a lot of reasons why potential candidates might be discouraged from applying, so make sure that you set out your stall effectively. Look for points on the applicant journey where they might feel like the job is not for them.
Language is a really big part of that. Leading with your diversity message on a job advertisement can show real commitment to change and might encourage more interest in the role. 

It's also worth taking some time to review your person specification and think really carefully about your experience threshold. You might be looking for a fundraiser with sales experience, in which case advertising for 5+ years fundraising experience won't get you the candidates you need.   

Similarly highlight that you want lived experience, entrepreneurial and transferrable skills. As Amelia says, it's all about “Removing biases that creep in overtime.”

The purpose of diverse recruitment, as Ruksana says: “Is all about making sure that we’re fair. At the end of the day, it’s about getting the right candidate for the job. But it’s about looking at a broader picture and sifting through a more diverse range of candidates.”

You can watch a full recording of the live panel discussion for free here.

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