Have you ever thought about how welcoming your place is? Without intention, many organizations don’t recognize that their workplace might not be conducive to new Canadians walking in for service, or simply out of curiosity.
Consider that folks who are unfamiliar with the services offered might need a little more prompting to enter and inquire. There are plenty of actions an organization can take to remove what might be considered barriers to inclusion.
Statistics show a population rising with new Canadians. Many new faces are from other countries, and Hinton is a new town to explore. It is common for a newcomer to seek out volunteer opportunities to practice their English, become socially connected, and possibly acquire a job.
If someone shows interest in your organization, and they self-declare that they are recently new to Canada and Hinton, then there is more to consider than small town hospitality.
Has your organization thought about its volunteer program, and how it might be challenging for another culture to participate in it? Language is a common stumbling block. Therefore, it is reasonable to review what practices your organization uses that could be improved for literacy and interpretation. To reach a broader audience, strive to maintain a moderate reading level (grade 6). Use a readability scale to evaluate your communications, such as posters. Experts suggest writing in the present tense, using a basic font, including images, and allowing lots of white space.
There are more things to think about. Policies help to guide people’s behaviour. The Human Rights Code prohibits actions that discriminate against people based on a protected ground in a protected social area. These are race, colour, religion, age, gender, marital or family status, and disability. The Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code prohibits harassment and violence. An organization must help to prevent harassment and violence, plus develop a prevention plan. Develop policies that address discrimination, harassment, and violence. Talk with staff and other volunteers about organizational values and ethics. A code of conduct should be posted in a visible area.
Are there volunteer role descriptions available? When developing these, use plain language, avoid acronyms or slang, and keep it limited to one page. Orientation and training can help a new volunteer to succeed. A buddy or mentor can be of great value to a Canadian newcomer. If a new face is quite out of the ordinary in your organization, then support should be made available to everyone.
Intentional involvement of many diverse people can really boost the volunteer program of a non-profit. People tend to support what they helped to create. If a newcomer enters your doors to ask what you do and how they can be involved, then make time for them! Open a volunteer file, assist them with an application, call their references, and invite them back. Go the extra mile to acquaint yourself with their traditional ways and mother tongue.
Go ahead and take a walk around to evaluate how welcoming and inclusive your place is. Review the policies to determine if the literacy level is conducive to all people. Have an open discussion with staff and volunteers about the organization’s stance on inclusion.
New faces can lead to a lot of opportunity for a non-profit organization. It might create a bit of extra work to bring an organization up to inclusion standards, but you might find yourself learning new words, tasting new foods, observing new customs, hearing new ideas, and having extra hands!
Social connection is what makes the world go around. Discrimination is no longer tolerated. Inclusion for all - this is the way to build support for your organization.