The library has assessed full-time, part-time, and volunteer diversity and has developed, implemented, and evaluated strategies to increase diversity.
What is it and why is it important?
For a library to be truly socially inclusive, it ought to be reflected in the diversity of the staff and volunteer teams.
Is the target community group represented in the library’s staff and volunteers?
Community groups often gauge whether they are welcome or not in an organization by the presence or absence of staff members and volunteers who represent those like them. Naturally, people of particular groups (e.g. ethnic, gender, age) tend to be drawn to organizations that have staff or a volunteer team with whom they can identify.
The CULC/CBUC Social Inclusion Audit pilot project established that older new immigrant youth noticed the absence of library staff members who belonged to their ethnic group.
The youth concluded that the library did not place any value on social inclusion if they did not practice it internally.
- 91% of new immigrant youth in Toronto and 100% in Vancouver want to see more staff members from their own ethno-cultural groups; compared to 50% in Brampton and 60% in Hamilton. These numbers indicate that youth who have been in Canada longer (Toronto and Vancouver libraries) want to see more staff from their ethnic groups, than newly immigrated youth from Brampton and Hamilton.
- 43% of youth from Toronto and 50% from Brampton stated that seeing more diverse staff members will help them feel more comfortable and understood. What’s more, 29% in Toronto and 33% in Brampton indicated it would make it easier to communicate in their own language.
What are some of the additional advantages to recruiting diverse staff and volunteer teams?
Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusive Non-profit Organizations, provides several reasons why it is important to build a stronger partnership with the community and to ensure that human resources recruitment policies and practices place a focus on staff diversity. The study indicates that staff members who represent the diversity of the community are more likely to:
- recognize changing needs in various population groups – as demographics in most communities are changing, diverse staff is more likely to have an impact on an organization’s continued relevance;
- be effective at developing communication strategies to help an organization communicate effectively with diverse audiences (e.g., diverse donors, community leaders, and strategic partners);
- understand the assets and needs of diverse clients or constituents and, therefore, more likely to design and execute programs that meet the needs of diverse constituents;
- provide culturally appropriate customer service.
As well, organizations which proactively address issues of inclusiveness and that include diverse staff team members have been shown to be more effective at problem solving. Specifically, when an organization values minority viewpoints, the organization usually develops a larger number of alternative solutions to problems and more thoroughly examines the assumptions and implications of alternative scenarios.
How do you do it?
There are several specific questions the library inclusion team should address in order to understand the extent of the inclusionary practices, including staff diversity. The questions found in the exercise template below are based on those developed in Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusive Non-Profit Organizations. They have been amended to reflect the Canadian and library-specific context.
The following the steps are the suggested method for assessing diversity within a library:
- Assess diversity
- Develop and implement strategies to increase diversity
- Evaluate strategies to increase diversity
Libraries are requested to follow these three steps for the board of directors, full- and part-time staff, and volunteer teams. The tools and exercises in this chapter have been split into three sections – one exercise per team.
1. Assess diversity of board, staff, and volunteers
The library may wish to use its community profile information to help identify which community groups should be represented on the library board, on staff and within its volunteer service. This data can be used to create everything from numeric goals or ratios to policies and goals for board, staff, and volunteer diversity. It will also serve as a useful indicator for the strategic development process.
The following tables will allow libraries to gain a more in-depth analysis of the current practices, policies, and diversity of team members. They will also provide critical thought-starter questions meant to provoke discussion, which could refine or develop new policies to support increased diversity.
Figure 2.0a Assessing the diversity of the board of directors
Based on the “Selecting Facts About Your Organization” exercise from Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusive Non-profit Organizations
|Assessing the Diversity of the Board of Directors||Answer|
|1. What is the library’s process for recruiting diverse people to serve as director? Is the process formal or informal? How effective is the process?|
|2. Does the library have a policy to guide diversity in the workplace? If yes, what effect does the plan have on recruiting board members?|
|3. How diverse is the board of trustees? Does the diversity of the board reflect the diversity of the community?|
|4. How is the current level of diversity on the board different or similar to its level of diversity in past years? Is the board more or less diverse than in the past? When and why did changes occur?|
|5. What is the annual turnover of board positions? Is the board comfortable with setting a numeric goal to ensure that upcoming vacant positions are filled by a qualified member of a targeted community group? If so, please set this numeric goal.|
|6. What is the board’s opinion about requiring directors to support the library financially? Has this opinion, or could this opinion, influence the library’s ability to recruit and retain people from various community groups as directors?|
|7. What do people of this community group report about their experiences serving as members of the board of directors? What has been their comfort level in serving the library in this capacity?|
|8. How does the tenure of people of this specific community group compare with the tenure of people serving on the board of directors?|
|9. To what extent does the board of directors consider issues relating to inclusion of people from various community groups when it sets policies and makes decisions for the library?|
|10. What formal and informal mechanisms are in place to guarantee that the operating policies of the library are sensitive to issues regarding inclusion?|
|11. Does the library have any advisory committees to provide feedback and guidance about programs, services, or initiatives to reach people from diverse communities? If yes, describe the impact that the advisory committees have on inclusiveness practices.|
|12. Has the board recently undergone inclusiveness and/or diversity training or education? If yes, describe the effect training had on inclusiveness practices.|
|13. What could the board of directors do differently to become more inclusive?|
|14. What could the board of directors do differently to address the needs of the various community groups it serves?|
Figure 2.0b Assessing the diversity of the staff team
Based on the “Selecting Facts About Your Organization” exercise from Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusiveness Non-profit Organizations
|Assessing the Diversity of the Staff Team||Answer|
|1. Does the library have a formal or informal process for recruiting people from various community groups for the staff? If yes, is it effective? Please explain.|
|2. How diverse are the full- and part-time teams? Has this assessment been completed?|
|3. Are explicit or strategic efforts made to hire staff who possess knowledge of and experience with diverse communities/issues? Please describe.|
|4. Describe how well the library has been able to retain diverse staff members, considering successes and challenges related to retention. Are there differences in the library’s past success in retaining staff members versus staff members that represent various community groups?|
|5. How frequently does the staff openly discuss benefits and barriers to working across cultures?|
|6. To what extent does the library provide training to help staff work with people from diverse backgrounds? Please describe.|
|7. What improvements could be made, if any, in staffing and/or staff training to help the library work with people from different communities?|
|8. What is the library’s history in recruiting and promoting diverse people with similar professional backgrounds and skills equally?|
|9. To what extent does the human resources depart take an active role in recruiting diverse people? Please describe.|
|10. What is the annual turnover of full- and part-time positions? Is it appropriate to set a numeric goal to ensure that upcoming vacant or new positions are filled by a qualified member of a targeted community group? If so, please set this numeric goal.|
|11. Does the library make inclusiveness trainers/consultants available to help staff understand and operate more effectively within a diverse cultural context? If yes, please describe.|
Figure 2.0c Assessing the diversity of library volunteers
Based on the “Selecting Facts About Your Organization” exercise from Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusive Non-profit Organizations
|Assessing the Diversity of Volunteers||Answer|
|1. What is the library’s process for recruiting diverse people for volunteer positions? Is the process formal or informal? How effective is the process?|
|2. Does the library have an action plan that upholds inclusion? Does the plan provide direction on recruiting diverse volunteers?|
|3. How is the current level of diversity of the volunteers different from or similar to its level of diversity in past years? Are volunteer teams or volunteers on committee’s more or less diverse than in the past? When and why did changes occur?|
|4. What do people of this community group report about their experience serving as volunteers with your library? What has been their comfort level in serving the library in this capacity?|
|5. What is the annual turnover of non-board related volunteer positions? Is it appropriate to set a numeric goal to ensure that upcoming vacant or new positions are filled by a member of a targeted community group? If so, please set this numeric goal.|
|6. How does the tenure of people of this specific community group compare with the general tenure of people serving as volunteers?|
|7. To what extent does the board of directors and staff consider issues relating to inclusion of people from various community groups when it sets policies regarding volunteer recruitment?|
|8. What formal and informal mechanisms are in place to guarantee that the operating policies of the library are sensitive to issues regarding the inclusion of volunteers?|
2. Develop and Implement Strategies to Increase Staff and Volunteer Diversity
Once the library has answered these questions and assessed the breakdown of the board, staff, and volunteers, it may be apparent that there is a need to increase diversity. The following examples provide some suggestions for developing and implementing strategies to do this.
Some libraries that have minimal annual staff and volunteer turnover will find it difficult to establish numeric goals; they may feel that new or revised policies and procedures are the best frameworks to guide diverse recruitment and hiring practices and results.
How to go about creating a diverse staff – Setting Goals:
from Inclusiveness at Work: How to Build Inclusive Non-profit Organizations
Before taking action to recruit diverse staff, give some consideration to the extent to which the library wants to set concrete numeric goals regarding the composition of the staff. Some organizations choose to deliberately establish diversity goals regarding staff composition.
There are other advantages of establishing concrete goals. First, organizations are simply more likely to focus on an issue if an official goal or policy exists to remind staff what the organization wants to achieve. Second, in the process of building consensus, the board and staff will develop a shared commitment about the importance of reaching the goal, which will increase everyone’s involvement in the effort to recruit and retain diverse staff.
On the other hand, there are potential drawbacks to establishing numeric diversity goals, especially for libraries that experience minimal annual turnover. Some individuals that represent diverse communities may come to feel that they are being treated like tokens.
Toronto Public Library – Human Resources Practices
The library has a practice of recruiting volunteers and youth page hires from local communities with emphasis on priority neighbourhoods. More than 1,000 youth volunteer at the library for pre-employment experience. As well, requirements for some capital projects the library is undertaking include youth employment. The library supports many student placements, including a job-shadowing program for aboriginal students at its Spadina Road Branch.
In addition, with Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and 12 community agencies, the library is entering into a mentoring partnership. Library managers will be matched with newcomer mentees to provide coaching career guidance and information about the Canadian work environment.
Finally, one position on the board is reserved for the position of youth advocate. To remove barriers to participation, board policies include provisions for accommodations for persons with disabilities, and for those claiming daycare expenses.
Here are some additional resources to assist with diversity recruitment:
The Maytree Foundation publication Diversity Matters: Changing the Face of Public Boards www.maytree.com/PDF_Files/DiversityMatters.pdf includes sample action plans by cities and agencies to increase the diversity of their boards including the City of Toronto.
The City of Toronto’s application process, which the library uses, www.toronto.ca/public-appointments/application-process.htm#diversity includes a voluntary diversity questionnaire to track achievements. The library participates in recruitment sessions outlining the commitment to diversity.
Lessons from the CULC/CBUC Social Inclusion Pilot Project
The new immigrant youth participating in the pilot social inclusion audit project pointed out that annual turnover of part-time positions exceeds the turnover for full-time staff members, and that individuals with part-time experience may be more likely to accumulate experience required for upcoming full-time position opportunities. As a result, libraries should consider targeting the recruitment of part-time staff positions to specific community groups as means to leverage succession and turnover to create more diversity within their teams.
3. How to evaluate your strategies
The questions in the exercises above likely prompted discussion and introspective analysis on the diversity of your board and staff teams. The results of these discussions likely yielded a numeric analysis of the current annual turnover rate and quantitative analysis of the current ratio of representatives from diverse community groups. The table below will assist you in capturing information on the current level of diversity and turnover, as well as on numeric goals. It will also help you track your progress in meeting the diversity goal.
Figure 2.1 Evaluate the impact of numeric diversity goals
|Current diversity ratio||Annual turnover rate||Goal – diversity numeric goal or ratio||Progress as of _______ date?|
If the library was encouraged to develop policies and procedures to guide and inform recruitment and hiring from diverse communities in place of numeric goals.
Figure 2.2 Evaluate the development and implementation of diversity strategies
|New or revised strategy||Please specify
List or describe the new or revised diversity policies, procedures, practices…
Describe the perceived changes in diversity attributed to each strategy
|Policies and procedures|
Audit Tool Interpretation – How to Assess Status and Progress
The Social Inclusion Audit Tool is designed to help a library assess its current status and level of progress in removing barriers to social inclusion. This box contains some examples to help when using the Audit Tool for Question 2.
Low Status/Low Progress
This may be the case when the library has not yet begun to assess staff, board and volunteer diversity and there is not a clearly defined approach for increasing diversity. It is possible the library is not fully aware of the demographic profile of the community (See Chapter 1).
What should you do? Be Open to Change.
Recognizing the benefits/importance of having a diverse staff that is representative of the local community is crucial for becoming open to change. The examples and exercises in this chapter are useful to help the library start to make decisions about how to work towards staff and volunteer diversity.
Low Status/High Progress
This may be the case when library staff, board, and volunteers are not representative of the diversity in the local community, but the library recognizes this and is taking steps to improve.
What should you do? Refine.
The exercises in this chapter can be used to help refine the library’s plan and recruitment and training practices for increasing diversity.
High Status/Low Progress
This may be the case when library staff, board, and volunteer composition reflects the diversity in the local community, or is close to it, but the library does not have a clearly articulated diversity recruitment plan.
What should you do? Become Intentional.
To ensure the library’s recruitment practices are done to a high level to attract the appropriate people, the library will want to develop a plan – that is regularly evaluated – that helps achieve an inclusive library and retain staff and volunteers from diverse backgrounds. Follow the examples and exercises in this chapter for guidance.
High Status/High Progress
This may be the case when the library has a staff, board, and volunteers who reflect the diversity in the local community. The library makes diversity a high priority in recruitment and provides training for staff, board, and volunteers and has clear indicators for monitoring the level of diversity amongst library staff.
What should you do? Mentor Others.
The library is demonstrating high capacity in recruiting and retaining staff, board, and volunteers from diverse backgrounds. No doubt there will have been some great successes along the way and some failures. Sharing these experiences with other libraries will help everyone on the way to become more inclusive libraries.