Change Collective: Inclusion in the fundraising recruitment journey

22 July 2020
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
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Elizabeth Balgobin hosted a discussion about inclusion within fundraising recruitment, where she was joined by a panel of fundraisers. She explains more in this blog.

As we reflect on the work of the Change Collective, the highlight for me this panel discussion with me about the role of inclusion in the recruitment journey. I was joined by a stellar panel of fundraisers: Carol Akiwumi, Chair of the EDI Committee, David Mbaziira, EDI Committee member, Emily Casson, EDI Committee member and Ruby Bayley Pratt.

What is inclusion?

The Change Collective Recruitment Guides set out the start of a relationship for both the employer and the new recruit. However, the guides are meaningless if organisations do not create a culture of inclusion.

Inclusion is about respect, welcoming people in, acknowledging and hearing their voices and allowing people the space and safety to be their authentic selves. Who would want to join an organisation with negative press and horror stories of exclusion? We know they are out there on race, disability, women and lack of progression. Some of the stories we have seen over the last year have been about bullying cultures, but the focus is usually on the alleged wrong-doer and little is written about those who have felt bullied and excluded. Not all exclusion is as extreme as bullying.

The Hiring Manager’s Guide features an anonymous blog which outlines what inclusion and exclusion looks and feels like. It sets out one person’s experience of working with different major charities. This blog had to be anonymous to protect the individual so that they can continue to find work in the sector and anonymises the organisations that they worked with. The blog has been written by a BAME Person of Colour.

Making the world a better place

I didn’t think much about EDI issues when I first joined the sector. All I really wanted to do was make a difference to people and try to make the world a little better. I was very lucky and landed in an organisation who back in the early 2000s were running sessions for staff on race and how it feels to be a minority. Although the charity I joined was by no means diverse it was trying to do better.

As I moved into international development the picture started to become clearer to me. It seemed strange that almost all the diversity came from the advertising materials. And despite big bold claims about female empowerment which were directed towards developing communities, there was very little happening internally to reflect the values we were preaching. 


I’ve had one particularly bad experience of EDI which I didn’t even recognise until I left the organisation. It was a feeling of otherness, not fitting in and constantly questioning what I was doing wrong and could have done better. A feeling of being uncertain about my place, needing to justify myself and wondering if I was ‘the right fit’. I internalised all the feelings I was having and assumed it must have been me and by the time I left the organisation my confidence was at an all-time low. it wasn’t until after I left and spoke to others who had similar experiences that I began to realise that it wasn’t me at all. It was that the organisation had tried to do the diversity without thinking at all about inclusion. They had hired lots of different types of people and made no provisions for adapting the culture, which was one of misogyny and bullying. Just hiring diversely isn’t enough if you don’t also work on inclusion. All you’re doing is changing the staff photo, not the staff culture.

After my experience in that workplace I took some time out of work and it took a lot for me to go back in. Before applying for a job I ask about workplace culture and find out what their stance is on EDI. I am lucky because I have the option to walk out of a job if I have the same experience I had previously. And having been through it I would walk out in a heartbeat this time round.

Recognition and action

My current place of work has a long way to go when it comes to EDI, but they know it and they are willing to put the time and work in to change. The SMT is willing to engage on the issues and know that walking the walk is as important as talking the talk. It’s been refreshing to work somewhere that welcomes the conversation and is willing to acknowledge what it doesn’t know and try to improve. As an organisation you don’t have to know everything or be an expert in these issues. You don’t even have to have been doing it well so far.

Inclusion is about being willing to try and to learn and to put your (probably not very much) money where your mouth is. And in return you’ll get a happy, loyal workforce who perform better because of their diversity, not in spite of it.

Elizabeth Balgobin
Elizabeth Balgobin
Interim Head of EDI at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising
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