Reflections on Fostering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Reflections on DEI (500 x 500px)

Civil society organisations worldwide have long recognised diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) as drivers for a more creative, open minded and empathetic work and workforce. In terms of work, an atmosphere and understanding of DEIB ensure that participants in CSOs’ work have the right spaces and channels to really input and drive the organisation’s actions. Furthermore, an organisation that is outside in – i.e whose workforce and leadership reflects the people who it is trying to serve – will have more intuition, knowledge, and experience.

While we all recognise that these values drive the way we work positively, recognition must be accompanied by implementation – and implementation is the hardest part. This blog post looks at how organisations can truly enhance their accountability through fostering diversity and inclusion in their work, from policy to practice. 


However, policies should be recognised as requiring resources to be put into them, as writing, implementing, monitoring, and learning are all necessary and intensive work. Additionally, sometimes policies may become a crutch – they enforce compliance without actual organisational change, or look good on paper but they don’t actually get properly incorporated into an organisation’s ways of working. So how do we get to that point of change?

Let’s look at policies

Organisations often put policies in place to institutionalise a process. Policies as a tool provide staff, management, and volunteers with guidelines and expectations. They can be used to codify certain behaviours and thinking, and to clearly delineate their systems and practices. 


For DEIB issues, the areas on which policies may enact are multiple: recruitment of staff and Boards, employment practices, complaints and grievances, among others. They codify certain practices. They are especially useful when it comes to setting targets, ensuring that organisations have processes in place that guarantee equity throughout their recruitment and employment processes, and that they have safeguards available to counter against discrimination. 

Let’s couple that with the right approach

To really shift culture internally, it is important to ensure that policies are co-written and co-created. For internal DEIB issues, engagement and participation from stakeholders, including senior leadership, staff, volunteers, and governing bodies, is crucial for effective implementation. Such engagement creates buy-in, enables a contextualised view, and aligns expectations.

DEIB issues are furthermore diverse (if you’ll pardon the pun), as different social aspects such as race, gender, ethnicities, location, among others, may be more of a sticking point than others in different contexts. It is therefore important to engage and understand a wide range of perspectives and come up with solutions and goals together.

Moreover, those who are implementing certain policies must have the necessary skills, knowledge, and training to carry out the policy effectively. Organisations should seek to support staff with the right tools and resources to ensure success.

Lastly, you cannot know what you do not track – and therefore it is important to regularly monitor and evaluate progress in order to identify and address challenges and for making adjustments as needed. 

Lastly, you cannot know what you do not track – and therefore it is important to regularly monitor and evaluate progress in order to identify and address challenges and for making adjustments as needed.

Some parting words

DEIB issues are very complex, and embarking on it is already a great step. Be open with your challenges, find and connect with like minded practitioners to exchange practices and be cognisant that they cannot be resolved in a day, and instead take continuous efforts to improve and change. And if you’re interested in discussing this further, then why not head over to the Dynamic Accountability Community of Practice to exchange with likeminded practitioners? Check out the newsletter and Google Group!


July 7, 2023


Bao Han Tran Le  (Accountable Now)

(This blog was originally written for the Dynamic Accountability Community of Practice.)


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