Traci L. Baird: Putting It All Out There – Sharing Policies Online Before Someone Has to Ask
By Traci L. Baird, EngenderHealth President & CEO
Curious about our sexual harassment policy? It’s on our website. How about our Do No Harm Framework and associated policies? Our whistle-blower policy? Ditto – on our website. How about our parental leave policies? That one is a bit complicated, and as you will learn below, we’re working on how to make these policies clear for those who might seek the information.
We have long made it publicly clear that EngenderHealth does not discriminate against anyone due to personal characteristics, affiliations, or life circumstances. Our mission and vision are rooted in a commitment to equality, diversity, and social inclusion. As part of that commitment, we have worked over the last two years to increase transparency around our organizational policies. Honestly, at first we started publishing more policies because we were advised to do so. We had no objection, so we did. Since then, we have found more reasons to be transparent about our policies as part of our deliberate journey to be an equitable and inclusive organization.
“As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and social inclusion, we have worked over the last two years to increase transparency around our organizational policies.”
Imagine a consultant eager to bid on an RFP, wanting to know whether we protect our contractors. Our duty of care policy can give them peace of mind. Imagine a supporter who sees our social media posts on our comment to gender responsive programs and wants to know whether we walk the talk within the organization. Our gender, equity, diversity, and inclusion policy is summarized on our website. So is our equal employment opportunity policy.
Or imagine a job applicant who plans to have a baby in the next couple years. Our parental leave policy would be highly relevant to them, yet they may feel vulnerable if they have to ask for it. Of course, we would not discriminate against a candidate for planning to use parental leave, but they may not know that yet. As it turns out, posting detailed parental leave policies online is more complicated than posting some other policies, because different countries have different leave requirements and policies. Our approach had been to publish our general parental leave philosophy on our website. However, we are realizing that is not specific enough information for job seekers, so we are now starting to add in each job posting (available via our website) the relevant specifics about parental leave, other types of leave, and other benefits.
In its recent report, Global Health 50/50 noted that many organizations do not post their policies in the public domain (see box). I get it. It might not seem relevant to the public, or it might feel complicated. But if we consider the needs of our stakeholders, we can see that there are a number of audiences and reasons for making our policies available, before someone has to ask for them.
We still have room for improvement – there are many more things we can make more transparent in the interest of meeting people’s needs. I know that as we do so, we’lllearn from organizations that are ahead of us on this path and hope that we can provide encouragement to others.