In November last year, CGE-Erfurt hosted the Autumn School of the Unsung Heroes Dialogue (UHD), a project run by CGE-Erfurt and a consortium of NGO partners to promote solidarity towards activists working within civil society, in conditions often undermining their labour rights.
During the Autumn School, a campaign working group undertook research on the makeup of the civil society sector: exploring principles for hiring Civil Society Workers, the role of volunteers and employees, and the power dynamics and barriers of access to the sector. The outcome of this research was a petition, aimed broadly at NGOs, calling upon the sector to address inequalities within it.
Why does this matter?
Civil society workers roughly account for 13% percent of the whole EU workforce and play a vital role in democracy and communities at all levels. The majority of the workforce (55%) is unpaid thus not registered and the remaining 45% compete against one another in complex competitive hiring processes. Thus, there is the need to safeguard applicants within recruitment processes through more ethical and rights-respecting processes. There is no excuse for unethical practices in recruitment by filling publicly advertised positions with internal candidates, recruiting unpaid or underpaid staff, or allowing prejudice to enter decision-making. We would like to establish new norms for recruitment, with new principles, such as transparency, clear expectations, accountability, fairness.
What does the petition call for?
In response to the poor conditions they identified, the group formed a set of principles for equitable hiring processes. These were formulated into a pledge which NGOs can sign to signal their support for transparent and fair hiring processes in NGOs:
“By signing this petition, one shall commit to running transparent and fair hiring processes for civil society roles, which includes:
- Informing candidates of the stages and timeline of the recruitment process.
- Not discriminating against anyone based on race, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
- Giving feedback to all participants to improve their chances in their future applications.
- Providing structured job descriptions, compensation information, and expectations of tasks.”