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Celebrating International Women’s Day  

Sarah Watson, Programme Manager at Hackney Giving, gave a thought-provoking presentation at a recent International Women’s Day event. The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 was ‘Inspire Inclusion.’ Sarah discussed inclusion in the workplace, and specifically financial inclusion.

Read an excerpt from Sarah’s presentation:

There’s a parallel between the ignored women, whose work carried on under the radar but which was pivotal in making things function, and who were not motivated by self-interest, and the voluntary and community sector today.

We should not be ignoring the voluntary sector. We shouldn’t be ignoring the role it plays in keeping society functioning, nor should we ignore its economic needs. And we should recognise that not everything has to be “countable” in order to be valuable.

At Hackney Giving, we’ve had to point out to funders that we can’t manage their grants programmes for free. We’ve also had to explain why it’s necessary to pay towards grant-holders’ office costs. “But they’ve already got an office!” said someone. Yes, they have. But it isn’t free of charge. They’ve got rent and bills just like everyone else and the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere.

As champions of the not-for-profit sector, we’ve also had occasion to make the case that staff costs are direct project costs. That not-for-profit groups ought to be able – allowed, in effect – to pay their staff. But we’ve looked inwards and we have to admit: when funding is so scarce and you’re looking at two applications, picking the one where more funding seems to get to the end user can be what clinches it. We need to continue to make the case not only for funding to pay staff, but also to pay them fairly.

Fair funding for the voluntary and community sector is essential to allow organisations to do their work. Fair funding would allow them to pay for those office costs as well as the delivery that is so vital for our society. And crucially, to pay a decent, fair wage for the staff who are acting not in their own self-interest.

On this International Women’s Day, we’ve had the opportunity to come together, to take the time to think about some issues and highlight struggles and disparities. Only by recognising wage disparities, can we do something about it. For all of us advocating for the voluntary and community sector at every opportunity, please keep wage disparity in mind in your work for a fairer society. And to the decision makers in the room, I urge you to consider the impact of wage disparity when making your choices about services and about funding.

Read Sarah’s full presentation here.

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