The journey towards inclusivity: Organizational structures – Part 2/3

The journey towards inclusivity: Organizational structures – Part 2/3

All of the work we do is, or should be, framed by our agency’s policies and procedures.

Policies are the guiding principles that set direction in an organization. Procedures are the specific actions or steps that are to be followed in the organization’s day to day operation. Every policy needs to have at least one procedure or it is without much meaning.

For example, an agency would set out its commitment to intersectionality, accessibility and inclusivity in its policies with general statements: “Our agency is committed to making its environment as accessible as possible to all women seeking services.”

The how-to would come in procedure, which might include such things as:

  • Steps to ensure physical accessibility
  • Steps for a woman to access crisis line services if she is Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Description of how women with special dietary needs will be accommodated

Creating procedures to ensure inclusivity is much more difficult because achieving this goal is about attitude of staff and volunteers more than about having a wheelchair accessible office space. However, procedures could identify training opportunities or requirements for staff as well as a supervision regime that would ensure staff are well supported in their work to be inclusive.

Processes and protocols

In addition to policies and procedures, your agency has processes and protocols which also must address inclusivity.

For example, your client complaint process needs to be readily available to and useable by any woman who wants to make a complaint.

This means it can’t require her to submit her complaint in writing, unless it also includes a way she can have someone else do the writing, or the process will not be accessible to and inclusive of women who are not literate.

The process must be made available to women easily; they should not have to ask a staff person where they can find it. This increases the inherent power imbalance between staff and service users. Some women will be intimidated from making a complaint about a staff person if they have to ask staff how to do it.

The process needs to be available in multiple formats so women who speak different languages or have different levels of literacy are able to understand what the process is.

This is the second of three blog posts on inclusivity. See the previous post.

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