Building on the success of the DecidoSer social change program, ACDI/VOCA and its affiliate organization Fundación ACDI/VOCA Latin America (FAVLA), based in Bogotá, Colombia, designed the INclusiónES initiative. Its goal is to promote gender equity, diversity, and inclusion in social, professional, and economic settings. The initiative sees these themes as complex and intersectional. It seeks to reach and enable people of different ages, genders, identities, sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds, geographies, and abilities with contextually appropriate tools and strategies for success in their organizational environments. Target audiences include private sector companies, local, regional, and national government entities, universities and schools, NGOs and social organizations, and the media.

Creating More Inclusive Spaces

INclusiónES was born as part of a push to deepen gender and inclusion work with partners of FAVLA and the Program of Alliances for Reconciliation, a program funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA in Colombia. Positive feedback from inclusion strategies incorporated into ACDI/VOCA’s social change program, DecidoSer, highlighted the need to develop a dedicated initiative. Despite the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, the INclusiónES team has managed to collaborate virtually with multiple organizations seeking to create more inclusive spaces for their members.

“Taking part in this experience of training and growth on the topic of inclusion and diversity has been very enriching, most of all for my personal life. I thought I was inclusive, but I realized there are many things we do on autopilot that can offend, exclude, and limit people in unconscious but still painful ways. This is a wonderful opportunity we have to learn, understand, and grow through the policy we created — and why not also bring it home to our families, to help create awareness on this important issue.”

– a private sector participant of INclusiónES

The Three Phases of INclusiónES

In each partnership, INclusiónES comes to life in three phases.

  1. Evaluating the Organization: The first phase consists of an organizational diagnosis, identifying and evaluating barriers to and opportunities for increased inclusion and diversity within an organization’s existing framework and measuring the behavior changes in participants toward gender equity, inclusion, and diversity.
  • Training Senior-Level Representatives: The second phase convenes a group of 25-30 senior-level representatives from different sectors of the organization for 30 hours of hands-on training in sensitivity, assertive communication, and appropriate action. These decisionmakers then collaboratively develop a tangible resource or “product.” Depending on their specific needs or interests, the product may take the form of a designed or updated set of internal equity and inclusion policies, hiring guidelines, an inclusive communications manual, anti-discrimination toolkits, or care pathways for gender-based violence and sexual harassment. Some groups have produced five pages of resulting documentation — others, 500 pages.
  • Implementing the Product: Finally, during phase three, the INclusiónES team offers additional consulting and socialization sessions to ensure the product’s smooth implementation into the organizational culture. They also evaluate behavior change and product adaptation through targeted surveys at the beginning and end of the process.

Collaborating with the Public and Private Sector

Since its establishment as a formalized initiative, INclusiónES has worked with approximately 170 individuals from more than seven organizations in 20 municipalities across Colombia and internationally. Notable public and civil society participants include Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory, the National Land Agency, Fundación ANDI, and municipal governments. In the private sector, INclusiónES supports the diversity and inclusion efforts of a number of companies, including Grupo AVAL, a Colombian conglomerate engaged in financial activities, such as banking, telecommunications, and real estate, in Colombia and Central America. ACDI/VOCA also maintains ongoing collaborations with media groups RCN and Semana.

Across each phase and contribution, INclusiónES promotes a multidimensional view and understanding of the different forms of exclusion that affect social dynamics in Colombian society. The initiative also prioritizes concrete strategies to support organizations in creating more inclusive spaces and policies. Ultimately, these same strategies serve to support organizational development, both in terms of empowered employees and in productivity, innovation, retention, and overall quality.

Learn more about our work in Colombia.

Learn more about Fundación ACDI/VOCA Latin America.

Learn more about the Program of Alliances for Reconciliation.