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Ric Raftis Consulting

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in your Organisation’s Rules

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In the governance of incorporated associations, a hierarchy exists within documentation. At the top is the law, followed by the constitution or rules. Should a conflict arise between rules and law, the law takes precedence. Beneath these are policies, which should align with rules and maintain a connection.

Consider the concept of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within an organisation. Research supports the value of diversity on boards for decision making and varied perspectives. However, model rules under Victorian legislation lack mention of DEI. This can lead to conflicts when an organisation has a DEI policy.

If your organisation does not have an existing DEI policy, you can download our Sample DEI policy and adapt it for use.

For example, imagine a DEI policy stating that board composition should be 50% male and 50% female. If not mentioned in the rules or constitution, an AGM could result in a single-gender board despite the policy. Since rules take precedence over policies, this would be allowed.

To address this issue, amending the rules to include reference to striving towards meeting DEI policy requirements is recommended. Including such clause ensures awareness and adherence to the DEI policy whenever possible. For example the clause: “With regard to the appointment of board/committee members, the organisation will at all times strive to meet the requirements of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy.” or something similar could be added.

Any amendments to the Rules of course requires a Special Resolution and then submission to the relevant authorities. In Victoria, that is Consumer Affairs, but you may need to check the process in your jurisdiction. Although full compliance may not always be achievable, striving for alignment with the policy remains crucial.

This lesson forms part of our Governance course for community organisations and small not for profits. In addition to the variety of lessons, there is a further video where the course content is presented to a community leadership program. The below video offers a free viewing of how the course is presented.

Video

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