In operation since 1993, Hope 24/7 is the Centre of Excellence for clinical intervention and the prevention of relationship and sexual violence. They work with all persons 12 years of age and older from trauma-informed, evidence-based perspectives. An accredited Community Health Provider, Hope 24/7 serves the 1.4 million people of Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon). Hope 24/7 recently appointed five candidates from the DiverseCity onBoard roster to the board, and spoke with us to share their recruitment process and vision for board diversity and inclusion.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Why is board diversity important to Hope 24/7?
Board diversity is important to Hope 24/7 because it demonstrates the organization’s commitment to our values of fairness and equity. But, beyond that, we are stronger the more diverse we become: through diversity, we get access to populations that are marginalized, disadvantaged, or simply would not have learned about the Agency’s existence without having a board member as a conduit. Peel Region is one of the country’s most diverse areas, and Hope 24/7 strives to meet the unique needs of the populations we serve. We want our board members to be a part of the community we serve so that we can better understand and mitigate the barriers and challenges to access. Hope 24/7 understands that the only way to achieve lasting change in the prevention of interpersonal violence is by working together towards that common goal.
You recently appointed five new board members through DiverseCity onBoard. Tell us about your recruitment process? How do you ensure that the board is made up of a range of skills and competencies?
Prior to joining DiverseCity onBoard, Hope 24/7 would recruit board members through networking, social media, and advertising. However, this approach has obvious drawbacks in that it does not ensure broad representation of different age ranges, ethnicities, religious affiliations, sexual orientation, etc.; the Agency was struggling to find qualified, diverse individuals using this approach. DiverseCity onBoard allowed the Agency to identify its requirements, and provided a ranking of individuals suitable for the roles for which we were recruiting. Through DiverseCity onBoard, Hope 24/7 was able to access talent it would not have otherwise reached.
We ensure our board is made up of a range of skills and competencies by completing a two-part assessment. The first review of candidates is based upon skills and competences. Each year, as members exit the board, a review is undertaken to identify the areas in which additional expertise is required. Those areas then become the focus of recruitment efforts. DiverseCity onBoard provided the platform to review skills and competences, while staying true to Hope 24/7’s values of fairness and equity. Once candidates are ranked according to skill, the Agency then rates candidates based upon how they reflect the communities that we serve. Regardless of where Hope 24/7 finds individuals, all candidates are required to complete a formal interview, undergo reference checking, complete a skills assessment, and undergo security clearances.
What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to be more intentional and inclusive when it comes to their board recruitment process?
Diversity is an organizational strength. It can be challenging for organizations to establish credibility and trust with populations who do not see themselves reflected in the organization. At Hope 24/7, all decisions are reviewed through the lens of: (1) the impact to the service user; and, (2) how the decision will operationalize the Agency’s values. The advice we would provide to other organizations wanting to become more diverse, is to be purposeful. This type of organizational change requires strong commitment from executives and other board members. This also necessitates being accountable to each other to ensure that the organization is staying the course on its inclusion of diverse peoples and perspectives.