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Global Flipchart #20



March 2021

Developing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within IAF

By John Cornwell, Basil Manning and Monica Atim

During the second half of 2020 and directly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, three members of IAF and the Social Inclusion Facilitators group, offered a series of online sessions under the title “I Can’t Breathe”.  The story of these sessions and something of the impact is captured in our article in the previous Global Flipchart and can be read here

Between June-December 2020, the session was run 12 times with more than 200 participants, of whom we estimate that approximately two-thirds were IAF members.  The third and final part of the process asks participants to consider the question, “what inspiration and new ideas do we need as Facilitators & IAF members to consistently promote equity and inclusion?'

There were many important issues raised for individual facilitators and communities to internalize. Basil Manning has highlighted some useful tips and good practices in his article, “Systemic racism and the challenge for IAF facilitators in 2021”.  In particular, he highlights the importance of all facilitators ensuring that anti-oppressive practice is at the heart of their work, no matter the area in which they are engaged.

Here we would like to highlight some key points for IAF to consider as an association, which are as listed below in no particular order:

  • IAF can also draw in other people into the facilitation world, identify facilitators and potential members in parts of the world that are not very visible currently and, therefore, develop its own diversity
  • Neutrality – IAF has an opportunity now to challenge the notion of neutrality as always being the best option for growth in a group
  • As part of our competencies, we need to ensure the safety of participants to be heard, understood and participative, and to ensure that facilitators take an anti-oppressive and inclusive approach
  • There is need for space in IAF to support this learning – the Special Interest Group exists and this should also be happening in other spaces, such as within chapters, regions and the board level
  • Members need to act as role models around inclusion as facilitators and IAF members
  • The Facilitation Impact Awards – there could be a focus on rewarding groups and organisations that have tackled issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Revisit and refresh our vocabulary in relation to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues in facilitation, and IAF could help frame and promote the ‘right’ vocabulary
  • Ensuring the IAF is visibly diverse and equitable throughout its activities, e.g. how chapters and regions are designed and supported, website content and profiling, marketing materials, board composition, use of resources etc.
  • Survey with members on inclusivity issues, ask what needs strengthening and for new ideas etc.
  • Hire a DEI consultant to provide some guidance to the Board and the association
  • Establish a permanent DEI committee of members to provide support and guidance to the board and the association as a whole

As we continue to develop the “I Can’t Breathe” concept in 2021 with new members of the team and a revised process, we are happy to continue offering support to the Board, Individual Members and the Association as a whole as needed.  We are keen to ensure that the lessons learnt from 2020 enable IAF to continually move forward in pursuit of its Vision, Mission and Core Values (Inclusivity, Openness, Global Perspective, Professionalism, Leadership and Excellence).