Diversity and Volunteering

Diversity means difference, and people's differences can be many and varied. They may include race, culture, national origin, region, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, politics, religion, ethnicity, disability, socio-economic differences, family structure, health, values and many more.

A diverse organisation is one that values these differences. Managing diversity follows on from, and expands upon, equal opportunities. It is a more wide-reaching approach. Whereas equal opportunities is concerned with making sure that the law is upheld and that personnel decisions are fair and do not discriminate, diversity values, rather than ignores, differences between people. Diversity is about learning to include different perspectives and processes so that the work of the group or organisation can be as effective as possible, to as wide a range of people as possible.

Diversity should be at the heart of volunteer involvement - not a bolt-on to normal practice.

Benefits of a diverse team

Though volunteers themselves are not covered by equal opportunities employment legislation, it is in your organisation's interest to take equal opportunities and diversity seriously.

The advantages of a diverse team include:

  • The creation of a more positive and inclusive profile and public image
  • Being representative of the wider society by the involvement of volunteers from different social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • Being more able to understand and respond to the needs of your local community
  • New ideas and fresh approaches being generated by people from different backgrounds and with different outlooks
  • A broader range of skills and abilities
  • Helps your volunteers to become role models, which will encourage others from similar groups to volunteer and help increase their aspirations
  • More confidence in working with service users from diverse backgrounds
  • Enhanced awareness within the organisation as a whole
  • Eligibility for wider sources of funding