At Diversity and Inclusion in the Voluntary Sector 2021, Jaipreet Deo, Client Account Manager at Stonewall [1], Dr Fenella Porter, Head of Equalities at Oxfam [2] and Louise Youngman, Executive Director of People at Scope [3] took part in a panel discussion on creating policies to encourage diversity and inclusion in the voluntary sector.

Jaipreet Deo works with various public sector organisations to push forward diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They work mostly with health and social care providers, also project managing the development of a new Stonewall resource which encourages more diverse recruitment in the voluntary sector.

Dr Fenella Porter serves as a board member of Womankind Worldwide and is a Trustee of the Young Women’s Music Project in Oxford. Since April 2017, she has also worked for Oxfam GB. Their work drives the organisational change required to further embed feminist leadership principles, and promote the safety and empowerment of all, with diversity, inclusion and anti-racism at the heart of Oxfam’s work.

Louise Youngman grew up living in a residential deaf school, this experience led them to follow a career in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. With over 25 years of corporate and not for profit HR experience, Louise joined Scope in July 2019 to head up the People team. Louise works to deliver everyday equality through social change, campaigning and influencing.

What have been the biggest challenges for increasing diversity within your organisation?

Jaipreet Deo of Stonewall discusses the biggest challenges for increasing diversity within their organisation.

Jai started the conversation and Fenella followed:

Dr Fenella Porter of Oxfam discuss the biggest challenges for increasing diversity within their organisation.

Louise stated that she related to the challenges identified by both Jaipreet and Fenella. They also highlighted the importance of trust and psychological safety within an organisation, so that employees who feel more marginalised can see that there is a working plan for change.

What Did You Do to Overcome These Challenges?

Fenella stated that those who work in diversity and inclusion are constantly trying new approaches to overcome the barriers they face:

Dr Fenella Porter of Oxfam discusses ways of overcoming the challenges in increasing diversity at their organisation.

Louise offered the things that worked well in her work at Scope and things that didn’t work so well:  

Louise Youngman of Scope discusses ways of overcoming the challenges in increasing diversity at their organisation.

Jaipreet explained that the project that she is managing and the resource that she is developing is at the very early stages. However, what Jaipreet has seen to be effective in ensuring consistency throughout the organisation when implementing more inclusive policies and practices.

When advertising roles, Jaipreet said that the descriptions must be accessible and flexible. They listed a number of key characteristics which contribute to an inclusive workplace:

  • Skills development plans for employees and volunteers so that they have clear incentives
  • Creating tools and schemes to help prospective volunteers that face financial barriers to participation
  • A culture of regular breaks when in the office to cater to the diverse needs of the workforce
  • Flexible shift patterns and an acknowledgement of the implications of the work location for the workforce
  • Making sure that advertised volunteer roles are robust, in that it is clear to applicants exactly what they will be doing in their work

Does Your Organisation Have Any Initiatives to Cultivate Allies to Support Diversity Policies?

Louise responded by explaining that when cultivating allies at Scope, they do it through encouraging engagement from everyone. Network groups are open for anyone to attend and conversations on diversity and inclusion challenges are encouraged by the Chief Executive of the organisation.

Ensuring that everyone is a part of the conversation on diversity and inclusion is key to creating allyship. Jaipreet wholeheartedly agreed with Louise saying that new diversity policies should always be talked about by everyone in an organisation.

This requires ensuring everyone within an organisation is truly comfortable with what a new policy involves, how to feedback on it and how to access the resources attached to it. The aim of promoting universal engagement with diversity policy is to form a culture of allyship.

Jaipreet offered further recommendations on promoting allyship:

  • Training the workforce in recognising microaggressions that can damage efforts to ensure an inclusive environment
  • Organisations ought to have examples to hand of what homophobia, transphobia, racism and discrimination looks like in the workplace
  • Leaders should also take time to see what these microaggressions look like for those with multiple-marginalised identities 
  • Volunteers need to be explicitly included in these policies just as much as paid workers are so that there is a standardised approach to inclusivity in a workplace

Fenella expanded on Jaipreet’s statement that leaders should take the reins because a top-down instalment of diversity and inclusion policies is more effective. Additionally, Fenella described the use of staff network groups in creating allyship:

Additionally, Fenella described the use of staff network groups in creating allyship:

Dr Fenella Porter of Oxfam discusses the initiatives of their organisation in cultivating allies.

What Diversity Policies Have Been Most Effective in Your Organisations at Creating Inclusive Workplace Cultures?

Louise shared that the policies that have been co-produced with colleague networks have had the biggest impact across the organisation.

The Disability Colleague Network at Scope worked hard to create policies that promote more accessible workplace structures such as accessible meetings and reasonable adjustments. The network wanted leaders in the organisation to go beyond what might be considered reasonable at other organisations by pushing boundaries.

Fenella added to Louise’s point that co-production of policies is positively impactful. Listening to all the voices in the room is essential to creating inclusive policies.

Rollouts of what are called ‘Learning Journeys’ at Oxfam have proved effective. The distribution of an Equalities Learning pack within the organisation, which aims to get people engaged with issues has managed to reach parts of the organisation that policies don’t always reach.

Jaipreet explained that effective processes, as well as policies, add to the success of an inclusive workplace:

Jaipreet Deo of Stonewall discusses the policies that have been effective in increasing inclusive workplace cultures at their organisation.

Overall, Jai, Fenella and Louise have shared a variety of recommendations that should be considered not only by those ensuring diversity and inclusion within organisations but also by the entire workforce.

[1] Deo, Jaipreet. 2021. Client Account Manager at Stonewall

[2] Dr Porter, Fenella, 2021.Head of Equalities at Oxfam  [

[3] Youngman, Louise. 2021. Executive Director of People at Scope

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Implementing core diversity policies in the voluntary sector is essential in creating inclusive and representative workplaces and services. We invited three champions of diversity and inclusion in the sector to discuss the topic.

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