Diversity and volunteering

The UK has historically included people from different parts of the world, different communities and cultures. What has changed over time is the number of identified or self-identifying communities that exist and how we value and treat people within our society.

As society changes and becomes more diverse, we need to look for positive ways to manage that change to make our society benefit everyone.  One solution is to bring people together by embracing the wider diversity that exists. In contrast to Equalities which is covered by the Equalities Act 2010, embracing diversity is about valuing who we are; celebrating our differences and celebrating what we have in common.

This can be done through greater inclusion; recognising the positive contributions people can make. As we embrace this, the way we function as a society can change for the better, adding to our cohesion through accepting our differences, include different perspectives and processes and celebrating and recognising what we have in common.  Volunteering has a role in this.  A diverse organisation is a group/organisation and volunteer programme that accepts and embraces diversity, values differences and recognises the benefits of inclusion will be more effective and relevant to as wide a range of people as possible.

Managing diversity follows on from, and expands on equal opportunities. It is a more wide-reaching approach. Where 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, and 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.

Diversity may include differences in:

  • Race
  • Culture
  • National origin
  • Region
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Faith
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability
  • Socio-economic differences
  • Family structure
  • Health
  • Values




Benefits of a diverse team

Though volunteers themselves are not covered by equal opportunities legislation it is in your organisations’ interest to take equal opportunities and diversity seriously.

There are many advantages of a diverse team. These 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 generated by people from different backgrounds and with different outlooks
  • A broader range of skills and abilities
  • Helps your volunteers to be 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
  • Enhance awareness within the organisation as a whole
  • Eligibility for wider sources of funding