If Diversity And Inclusion Is A Hiring Issue, Why Aren’t We Talking To The Charitable Sector’s HR Professionals?

The AFP 2018 Toronto Congress was one devoted to the topic of disruption in the Canadian fundraising profession, and hence the Canadian charitable sector.

The plenary sessions took a deep dive particularly into the issues that women and visible minority candidates face at the job; the prejudice that manifests itself in lower salaries, and fewer opportunities for career progression.

For some of the Executive Directors and the Directors of Development of the charities in the room, this might have been the first time there became aware of the issue.

Or perhaps, this was an additional exposure to the hard statistics that demonstrate how systematic these problems are.

While many speakers spoke of different solutions, e.g. allyship (where a person in a position of privilege and power works in solidarity with a marginalized group), and being aware of unconscious biases, I believed that for systemic change in the charitable sector, we need to thoroughly examine the recruitment process.

Inside the organization, this involves the point-person on Human Resources; outside the organization, this is typically a recruitment agency that is hired to pre-screen candidates (thanks to AFP Fellow Camila Vital Nunes Pereira for this insight). If, as session after session pointed out, there is a problem with recruitment, I suggest that we need to tackle this at the source rather than downstream

Inside the organization, this can be someone with “Human Resources” in their job title, or in others this can be the Director of Administration, while in others, the recruitment process can fall solely on the Director of Development, or perhaps even the Executive Director.

Outside the organization, within the recruitment agency, this can be a specific headhunter or recruiter who runs their own agency or a group of recruiters working together.

To ensure a supply of diverse fundraisers and equitable treatment for all candidates, we would benefit from outreach that also includes these Human Resources professionals or Directors of Administration inside the organization and recruiters outside the organization who might not figure much in fundraising questions, but are crucial in the hiring of fundraisers. Beyond this, it’s also about ensuring that diversity is an important component in the hiring process itself.

And that can mean, in a safe and professional environment, to have a chat with the point-person on the recruitment process and asking them if all the best candidates are applying for the job, or if something about the job advertisement might be putting off applicants, or if enough thought is given to how wide the spectrum is for human interactions during the very artificial period of the interview process.

And that’s not an easy conversation, I admit, especially as the optics is one where a fundraiser might be “challenging” a Human Resources person or a recruiter whose speciality is hiring on making the hiring process more transparent or even through the enquiry, implicitly signalling that things are not right.

But we’ve got to start somewhere.

And I can think of no better place than those crucially involved in the hiring decision and educating them on diversity and inclusion.

Special thanks to AFP Fellow Camila Vital Nunes Pereira for taking the time to provide her valuable comments, suggestions, and edits. You made this a better piece than the one I had originally written.