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Innovation Hub Blog

Recap Inclusion Inventory: Creating a Culture of Growth

On the 29th of June 2022, The Partos Innovation Hub kicked off their Inclusion Journey, through an interactive ‘Inclusion Inventory’, in which professionals from NGOs explored the current challenges and needs around realising diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) in the non-profit sector and purpose-driven organisations. While we see many examples of NGOs taking steps on DEI, there still is little space to share experiences and obstacles on the way. As such, Partos will develop a learning trajectory that supports organisations with practices, tools and reflections to embed DEI in their organisations. In this session, we opened the floor for organisations to share their experiences and input for the learning trajectory. These are the main take-aways:

14 July 2022

The Inclusion Inventory was a co-creative session facilitated by Nina Guillerme and Gigi Ong-Alok, that gathered professionals from the NGO sector, academia, and philanthropy to discuss a common interest in diversity & Inclusion in the organisations. Through a plenary discussion and Miro & Mentimeter, the participants touched base with the groups’ 1) engagement towards DEI, 2) the major challenges and 3) the prior needs to embed DEI in their work environment and organisation. This resulted in a colourful and dynamic process of brainstorming, diverging and converging ideas.


Who are the people engaged in DEI, how are organisations engaged with DEI and what actions are they taking? The answer is, of course, diverse. DEI can be management driven or led by HR employees, or externally consulted. In this case, the majority of participants shared that the important work of dialogue and organisational transformation was initiated through (informal) DEI working groups. Furthermore, the overall organisational engagement of DEI was considered moderate among the participants; simultaneously, there is still a big leap for organisations to embed DEI in long-term strategy, management and leadership. This resonates with the challenges shared.


While many challenges were noted, most commonly is that DEI is mostly addressed in a siloed way (different approaches per department) and not fully integrated into the organisation’s strategy, mission, and vision. Work pressure, competing deadlines, and daily tasks are taking the necessary time it takes to realise a DEI strategy.  As a result, the responsibility to put DEI on the agenda and implement it into the organisation’s core is either not taken, or only by a few who dedicate extra or voluntary time to this task. Moreover, DEI is sometimes seen as tokenism, which means that the recruitment of under-represented groups is seen as a symbolic effort to be seen as inclusive. As one participant mentioned:

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is seen as a checklist exercise, rather than a transformative journey’.


Besides these challenges, the identified prior needs were structured around a theory of change that integrates the Organisational, HR, Community, Leadership and Individual level, created by Nina Guillerme. Below, we highlight some outstanding and iterated comments under these dimensions:


While many initiatives are taken or thought-off by organisations, the notion of accountability is crucial. It is vital that organisations and individuals can be held accountable when organisations either consciously or unconsciously perpetuate the systemic exclusion of marginalised groups. Moreover, what is on the agenda on DEI and what is eventually undertaken can sometimes differ from each other, making the need for accountability by peers or other organisations high.  Not only to ensure that the envisioned strategy is implemented but to also measure the progress on DEI.

‘Accountability for perpetrators even if they are powerholders’

A fair (disclosure of) payment

As shown through research taken by Partos among its members, HR is often the most involved department through its processes, policies, and practices to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organisation. From diversity policies, fertility policies, and integrity, HR is the spill when it comes to ensuring DEI within an organisation. As such, on this level, a prior need identified was a fair (disclosure of) payment. Not only when it comes to internships (no unpaid internships), but also a disclosing of salary on vacancy announcements. To reach a diverse audience for vacancies, from age to gender to race, mentioning the salary on the vacancy text was deemed an important step to take for HR officers. While at the same time, it is key that HR diversity policies are deeply embedded within the organisation. As one participant mentioned:

We need to make sure it is not seen as a checkbox or as tokenism’

Inclusive communication

To make sure communities are well represented and are able to fully contribute to the business, the need to ensure our communication models are inclusive and respectful was voiced. Within purpose-driven organisations and the non-profit sector, inclusive communication has been put on the agenda and generates more and more attention. For example, Partos’ inclusive communication initiatives reach a wide and diverse audience. ‘Poverty porn’ describes the media outings that portray famine, poverty, and children in order to attract sympathy and to increase donations. It generates the image of a dependency on northern organisations.  Mentioned on the community level:

‘ensuring our communications in general are non-exploitative and equitable, portraying people in a respectful way, not as passive victims’

Leaders as role models

Management! Identified by many as a significant actor in deeply embedding DEI within the organisation, creating an inclusive space and including all team members, had been those in leadership. A clear vision of DEI from an inclusive leadership perspective is needed. This requires a commitment of managers to be accountable and transparent, whilst having the ability to be vulnerable and have the room to make errors. This starts with proper training for those in leadership positions, and a culture in which managers are not ‘blamed’

A culture of growth

how do we create safe spaces in organisations where employees feel they can air their views without judgment/punishment?’

Not only in leadership was the need to have an open and safe space to make mistakes needed. To establish a clear DEI strategy, an inclusive attitude and culture are fundamental in order to have fruitful discussions and to grow as an organisation. Besides the need for more time and resources to build this DEI strategy within the organisation, participants identified the need for safe spaces to share and reflect on different views, perspectives, and practices.

Closing remarks

This inclusion inventory kick-started the future learning trajectory on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on an organisational level. One of the main takeaways is that DEI is a complex trajectory that needs an organisational strategy, a full commitment, and accountability, as well as the necessary time and skill dedicated. Engagement and knowledge are crucial to realise this trajectory. Above all, participants expressed their need to share their best practices with each other, to not duplicate the work or try to re-invent the wheel themselves. Good news, because there’s more to come!

Next: Design the DEI learning trajectory with us!

Partos will design a learning journey on DEI in 2022, and you are invited to join us in the design process. We are currently organising an Advisory Group that will collaborate with us to identify prior needs and translate that into different building blocks of the learning journey. The agenda is as follows:

  • June: Inclusion Inventory.
  • July-September: Learning Trajectory design and co-creation.
  • September – October: Registration.
  • Fall 2022/Early 2023: Start Learning Journey Design

Drop us an email before the 28th of July to join the DEI Learning trajectory Advisory Group at