Organizational effectiveness/Learning center/Diversity
This is a page about a strategy included in the organizational effectiveness learning center.
Use this page as part of the organizational effectiveness tool.
Being more inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds
Being inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds may help your organization be effective in many other areas. For example, a more diverse board can lead to more effective governance. If your organization is trying to increase participation and improve content on the Wikimedia sites, including people with many different backgrounds in your organization's work as volunteers, donors, staff, and partners may be a good basis for increasing participation among a more diverse group of contributors. The knowledge and perspectives of a diverse group will make your organization stronger. Organizations may create a more inclusive and welcoming environment to ensure that people of many different backgrounds feel comfortable interacting with organizations once they are engaged, and may also think of proactive ways to attract a more diverse group of people.
Diversity will be defined differently in different contexts. Many organizations may focus on gender diversity by including more non-male people. Others may focus on including more people of different abilities, races, nationalities, ages, or languages in their work, as appropriate in their contexts. Many organizations may also consider the different skills and experiences people bring to their organizations as an aspect of diversity.
Recommendations for inclusiveness
If your organization wants to get better at being more inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds, here are some concrete recommendations that may help your organization build capacity in this area. Some of these recommendations may be more or less applicable depending on your organization’s strengths and gaps in this area, and your organization's context. We realize many organizations are already using strategies like these.
Diversity may be defined in many ways in different contexts, but it means including people with all kinds of life experiences in your organization in different ways. For example, you might want to include participants of many different genders, races, physical and mental abilities, nationalities, cultures, religions, and age groups in your organization, or you may want to include people with more diverse knowledge or from different areas of the region you work in. Making sure your organization is more diverse may be a critical step in increasing diversity among online contributors as well.
Listen and learn
- Be open to listening to your current volunteers and members, as well as people not yet engaged with your organization, about their feelings and opinions, and provide multiple channels for feedback around diversity. Especially if your organization consists primarily of people from one group, keep in mind that it may be difficult for people to voice their feelings and opinions openly.
- Conduct a short survey of your members (if you have members) or volunteers who have worked with your organization, to understand who is included in your volunteer base already. Identifying the groups already included may help you understand which population groups (if any) you could target for increased participation.
- Consult with other Wikimedia organizations who are doing a good job with being open to people with diverse backgrounds or underrepresented population groups, and identify how the strategy has both enriched the organization and led to increased impact through more and better Wikimedia content; share that within your own organization to make a case for why this strategy is worth pursuing.
- Consider recruiting a volunteer “diversity expert” with deep knowledge of Wikimedia who can spend a half-day or full-day with your organization’s most active volunteers to help increase their awareness of why diversity is important.
Understand and remove barriers
- Identify the barriers to participation for different population groups. If you have any control over these barriers, think about ways to remove or reduce them. If you do not have any control over these barriers, consider the implications for your organization’s work with these groups.
- Think through an online- and offline activity or event from the perspective of someone completely new to Wikimedia. Think about what messages your group is giving new volunteers or participants. Are these messages welcoming to people of diverse backgrounds, or could they be misinterpreted? If so think about ways to refine your messaging so it will be interpreted in a more consistent way, and so it will be welcoming and accessible to people of many backgrounds.
- Identify the criteria for a “friendly space policy.” What would make your organization seem more friendly to volunteers of many different backgrounds? Think about how your organization can encourage norms that prevent harmful behavior or harassment that may make people less inclined to participate in your activities or engage with your organization.
- Think about the steps new volunteers and participants of any background have to take to become more integrated into your organization. To the extent possible, make these steps easier and/or more streamlined.
- Are there opportunities for in your work (online or offline) for engaging people of diverse backgrounds? If you know you need to increase engagement with a specific group, think of ways to motivate people in that group to participate more actively through your programs. For example, you might consider targeting a content gap in a specific area some volunteers in that group have identified as relevant.
- Proactively promote an inclusive culture within your organization, and make sure to get all key volunteers and other leadership on board with prioritizing inclusiveness. If key people in your organizations are resistant to prioritizing diversity, it will be difficult to be successful.
- Consider if or how the composition of your organization’s board or leadership is inclusive of people from different backgrounds. Consider recruiting people to join or become more active in your organization’s leadership that reflect your goals in this area, and providing them with mentorship so they can thrive on your organization's board.
- Consider making significant changes to your board to increase diversity. For example, increasing the number of seats on your board and co-opting some members to gain specific skills.
Wikimedia organizations with expertise in inclusiveness
If your organization has expertise in being more inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds, please list yourself here and briefly describe your expertise that others wanting to build capacity in this area can contact you:
- Wikimedia UK has a range of experience as regards working with volunteers and welcomes contributions from Wikimedians further afield to our discussions
- Please add your organization’s name here, with a description of your expertise.
Here are some learning patterns related to this strategy. Create your own learning pattern here, if you have learning to share in this area.
Ongoing challenges in the area of being more inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds
If your organization would like to share an ongoing challenge in this area, that is or is not addressed in these recommendations, please write it down here as a starting point. We can try to build resources in this area or help different Wikimedia Organizations connect to address the challenge together.
- Please add a description of your challenges in this area here.
Please add useful resources you know about, whether created by the Wikimedia movement or in another context.
- Resources on inclusiveness from Energize Inc.: http://www.energizeinc.com/art/subj/div.html#PhysDis
- Engaging volunteers with different learning or emotional abilities online.
- Many organizations in the US or the UK have trouble recruiting male volunteers, while organizations in the global south (and most Wikimedia organizations) tend to have more trouble recruiting female volunteers. Here is a perspective on some pitfalls faced by an organization working in India to recruit female volunteers.
Create a capacity building plan for being more inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds
If your organization has decided to prioritize capacity building to improve your ability to being more inclusive of people with diverse backgrounds, please create a table like the one below. The steps in this table can be part of your organization’s master capacity building plan, as suggested in the User Guide.
If you would like to share your capacity building plan publicly on Meta, you can use this button to create your capacity building plan.