CIVICUS: Holding the Mirror up to Ourselves – Diversity and Inclusion Practices and Trends in Civil Society Organisation

Publication by Civicus – January 2020, accessible here.

Civil society is often at the forefront of tackling inequality and exclusion around the world. Yet these external activities are not always reflected in the internal operations of civil society organisations (CSOs). While there is broad recognition of the significant value that recognising and enabling diversity and inclusion can bring to organisations, the truth is that when we hold a mirror up to ourselves, we still see that there is a lot to be done to achieve real and tangible change in civil society in terms of diversity and inclusion.

Few people in the social sector recognise that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination operate on a broader level – often inconspicuously – within organisations and systems, and that these underline every major social issue in almost all societies.
As civil society, we must recognise that we participate in systems that continue to exclude and undervalue a significant number of people, and we must confront their root causes and structural manifestations. The case for deepening our commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident when considering gaps in the social sector, disparities in societal outcomes and the untapped potential of diverse teams. Although we have made progress, we need to continue challenging exclusion, including by amplifying the perspectives of the most marginalised civil society voices.

The objectives of the report were: first, to identify practices, trends and innovations in promoting and ensuring diversity and inclusion within CSOs, from the starting point of considering organisational cultures; and second, to identify practical suggestions and examples on how to implement diversity and inclusion practices beyond theory.