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Introducing a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Playbook

Words by Nonso Jideofor • Oct 28 2021

This blog post introduces a new Code for All (CfAll) playbook on diversity, inclusion, and equity. The playbook consists of 3 tools: a) Equity DNA; b) Equity Triangle and; c) Equity Programming. 

Last year, Code for All engaged an equity and inclusion consultant to research and understand ways CfAll and members currently function that hinder equity and inclusion and how they might address these gaps. The research explored questions such as:

  • What do equity, inclusion, and representation look like in a global context?
  • How can it be reinforced in the CfAll network’s structure?
  • What protocols need to be restructured and/or created that could work as a framework for the Network and its members?
  • What capacity building is required on inclusion, gender focus, and human-centered tools for the Core Team to support the network members and overall civic tech community?

At the outset, the research project was intentional about developing a playbook that could be shared with the wider civic tech community, containing resources, strategies, and methods to ensure policies and programming are inclusive for a global audience, specifically underrepresented regions, traditionally marginalized groups and non-native English speakers.

The research that informed the design of the tools in the playbook employed a mixed-methods approach, including a review of relevant literature, interviews, and a set of participatory workshops involving members of the CfAll network (Codeando Mexico, Code for Pakistan, g0v, OpenUp, Sinar Project, Civic Tech Sweden, and mySociety). After the literature review and interviews, draft versions of the playbook tools were designed and then tested and refined during the participatory sessions. While the tools have been finalized and are capable of helping civic tech organizations address inequities in policies and programming, the intention is to continuously iterate them based on feedback from users in the community.   

Digital sticky notes on a digital whiteboard.
Equity & Inclusion Workshop Jamboard

The following are some of the research highlights that informed the design and content of the playbook:

  • Not one size fits all: the issues and topics under diversity, inclusion, and equity are subject to concepts and narratives that change as focus shifts from one organization or region to another.
  • Debates that exclude power: in a bid to appear inclusive and equitable, organizations employ minority representation as a tool to appear diversified while deeper problems persist and the search for a lasting solution continues – or not
  • Quick fixes are the real competition: civic tech organizations do not do checkbox diversity because they are disingenuous; instead, it is more a case of being swayed by the ease of access and application of such strategies.
  • Blurry line between core value and perception management: in the absence of these external incentives and prying public concerns, it is hard to tell if organizations will remain proactive in their DIE pursuits
  • Numbers matter but they can be misleading: approaching diversity, inclusion, and equity from a numbers-only mindset makes the work happen quickly and guarantees that deep DIE changes do not occur.

For more information, please download the full report and playbook.

We hope that this playbook can help organizations steer away from many conventional strategies that offer quick fixes that only meddle with and end up worsening inequities. They offer a concrete process and accountability to do the work of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Organizations are encouraged to use the playbook as teams. Each tool requires a time commitment of up to 90 minutes and the playbook provides detailed instructions on how to facilitate the sessions and use the tools. Below is an overview of the tools:

1. Equity DNA consists of 5 questions designed to quickly examine how responsibility and benefits are distributed within an organization and in relation to the team makeup.

Illustration of a DNA strand with the title "Organization DNA" with 5 points. 1 -  Who is making the key decisions at the civic tech organization? 2 - Who is on the path of vital information that pertains to the civic tech organization? 3 - Who is at the privileged nodes of the structure of the civic tech organization? 4 - Who is prioritized by existing motivators in use of the civic tech organization? 5 - Who benefits from the money available to the civic tech organization?
Equity DNA graphic

2. Equity Triangle starts with conversations around the status of diversity, inclusion, and power in the organization and guides the users through creating an equity journey map.

A triangle with the words Inclusion, Diversity and Power on its 3 points.
Equity Triangle graphic

3. Equity Programming provides a simple framework for civic tech organizations to examine their works and role in communities they serve in 5 areas of programming including the beneficiary, design, implementation, measurement, and communication to ensure that their ways of working are not promoting further inequities.

Icons with the words Beneficiary, Design, Implementation, Measurement and Communication.
Equity Programming graphic

Your feedback is crucial to make these tools better and keep them accessible to other teams. We are in the process of turning these into collaborative and open source tools that the community can continue to use and iterate. If you have any questions or concerns or require support using the tools, please contact:

Overall, equity and inclusion is a hard topic as the collaborators agreed, which is why it needs constant attention and a mindset that is aware that it’s an ongoing process. The results will not be immediate but it is not about results only, the process leaves its own impact. 

For more information, please find the full report and playbook:

Author picture

Nonso Jideofor

Funding & Partnerships Manager

Nonso supports the network to identify and harness fundraising and partnerships opportunities. Prior to taking on this part-time role with Code for All, he supported several civic tech and civil society organizations as sub-saharan Africa regional lead and program manager at The Engine Room and Reboot respectively.

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