|“||Operational constraints often hinder
our ability to ensure diversity.
Administrative tasks and operations are key to diversity and inclusion
One of the key lessons from this process is that diverse and inclusive participation is tightly linked to policies in operations and administration — in areas like travel policy, how people get reimbursed for expenses, and access to resources. Supporting diversity and inclusion often requires surfacing hidden barriers in these areas and tackling them.
- “Operational challenges often hinder our ability to bring new voices to the table. If people face barriers to buying a meal at a conference, or paying high data costs, they often get frustrated and drop out.”
- “It's really hard to see people who are really lit up and excited to participate, and what's holding people back is often reimbursement.”
- “There is shame and struggle for people in this. One of my colleagues had to turn to me on day three [of a Movement Strategy event] and ask if they could borrow money so that they could eat.”
Update the reimbursement process
One of the key recommendations for reducing some of these barriers is reimbursing volunteers earlier in the process, or covering costs up front where needed. This can help minimize volunteers’ financial risk and hardship.
- “Pre-payment of hotels and flights is incredibly important to easing participation barriers for everyone. We should offer a financial advancement to cover costs up front. (eg, ‘do you require reimbursement before the event, or after?’)"
- “One of the most effective things we can do is get money into people's hands sooner, to pay up front costs.”
Expand methods of payment
Not all participants have access to bank accounts, or are able to use the same process for receiving funds. Expanding methods of payment can further bolster equity and inclusion.
- “One of the biggest barriers was [a] method of payment. It was hard to get $ into the hands of our African communities.”
- “We should consider using World Remit, Western Union, or other payment platforms that are recognized in other parts of the world. Without access to these commonly used tools, it was very difficult to get people quick reimbursements.”
- “Not having those systems in place meant that after the event, we had to tell people that to receive money, they would have to adhere to our North American policies of bank account or PayPal.”
- “Many of the participants didn't have bank accounts, so that left them opening one up at their expense [often more than the reimbursement] or using a friend’s bank account and having both of them sign a paper form and email it back."
- “Create a training video for reimbursement, to help overcome language barriers. Or office hours / training for reimbursements. A lot of the people travelling may have not filled out a reimbursement form previously and need training for success.”
Explore new models for compensation
Many participants expressed concern that a traditional “volunteer” model for doing large parts of the Movement Strategy work was not equitable or fair in certain areas. There was support for exploring new approaches to compensation and reducing financial barriers to participation. These barriers can include everything from the cost of data and mobile, to childcare, to accessing computers and tech.
- “We need to pay people equitably if they're doing the same work.”
- “We should consider covering costs for people in areas where internet / mobile may be less available or expensive, to ensure equitable tools across teams.”
- “Some participants got paid and others didn't for the same work. To put into writing: pay volunteers equitably if they're doing the same work as staff.
- “This issue made me not want to participate any more. There were some people who were being paid to take part in the process, and some weren't. Those being paid were generally from the Global North, and those not paid were generally from the Global South. It felt very unequitable. I really hope this does not happen again.”
- “If we agree that voluteer-ism is only available to those with the privilege to afford it, the question then becomes: what are we willing to do to enable it?
- There are different reimbursement models we can consider for different levels of engagement. There’s the compensation frame, but we can also frame it as: ‘how are we enabling participation for those who are constrained?’”
- Paid compensation is one way to do that, but there are others as well — like a stipend model. We could offer stipends that people can opt-in to claim, with no means test, to spend on whatever is helpful to them. For some it might be childcare, for others data or mobile bills, for others something else.”
Expand and simplify micro-grants to support community
“Micro-grants” are another way to reduce financial barriers, especially if reporting requirements and paperwork can be kept to a minimum.
- “Handing out easy-to-access micro grants for salons has proven to be successful. We successfully piloted a grant template + approval process that allowed local grants to be issued to support movement strategy conversations.
- These are low-barrier, easy to access grants of a few hundred or up to a thousand dollars that allow community to host a small event in ways that give them a sense of ownership and way of participating in the process.”
- “We should simplify financial tracking for micro-grants. Right now, there’s not much difference in the financial reporting requirements for $50 versus a $50,000 contract. It was hard to get financial reporting from people, and a lot of administration was required on follow-ups for grants of small $ value.”
- “It would have also helped to have office hours or individual meetings with all grant recipients at the outset to ensure they understood and had capacity to report on the grants.”
Support diverse hiring practices
- “We could have used more specific help & guidelines on *how* to implement diverse and inclusive hiring practices, versus the team being left to its own devices.”
- “Support for staffing, especially on diversifying the team, would have been of huge value for us. Having less focus on North America for recruitment would have been great.”
- “The ability to use Safeguard and Upwork for hiring is invaluable. It allows to hire people with the skills needed without issues of visas, etc. Some improvements are needed, but on the whole it was really great that we could hire when we needed and get the right people globally.”
Tools and examples for reducing financial and administrative obstacles
Do you have tools, methods or ideas that you, your community or organization use for this? Add them to this section for others to see.