How NGOs and international nonprofits can build an equitable workplace

November 14, 2022

An equitable workplace means fair treatment for everyone, equal rights to opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. Regarding international employment, it also means that workers have a comparable worker experience, no matter where in the world they’re located. 

This matters to nonprofits and NGOs because each country has its own set of labor laws. This means that workers who are employed by the same organization and hold similar roles but live in different countries from one another could be entitled to different benefits by virtue of the laws that regulate labor where they live.  

This puts more onus on the organization to ensure they maintain equity among workers. After all, your employees don’t want to watch another worker get benefits that they don’t have access to, just because they’re located in a different country. 

Making your international nonprofit or NGO more equitable across borders comes with many benefits, including: 

  1. Meeting the needs of your workers. If labor laws vary from country to country, endeavor to create comparable benefits packages that provide a more equitable worker experience among your staff.  
  2. Make your workers feel heard. It is easier to work toward solutions when the lines of communication are accessible and valued. 
  3. Generate greater employee loyalty. Quality staff are hard to find, especially those who have the required skills and flexible life circumstances to work abroad. Retaining the employees you have will allow your mission to thrive. 

In this article, we'll cover 4 steps you can take to ensure that your nonprofit or NGO is building and maintaining an equitable workforce. 

Start with your International employment contracts  

An international employment contract is the legal statement of record that outlines all the key details of the relationship between you and your international employee, including:  

  • Start date  
  • Duration of the position/length of employment  
  • Salary  
  • Benefits  
  • Working hours  
  • Overtime policy  
  • Vacation rights  
  • Sick policy  
  • Termination policy  
  • Notice period  
  • Confidentiality requirements  

The employment contract legally outlines everything the employer is responsible for, and everything the employee is responsible for in return.  

Because each country has its own employment laws, your contract should comply with your host country’s labor laws and regulations, as well as provide an equitable experience for your workers.  

Create a global benefits strategy 

A global benefits strategy (GBS) aligns the needs of the employees with the goals of the employer to create relevant, sustainable, cost-effective and equitable benefits programs in the countries in which you operate. It recognizes that there will be some flexibility to accommodate government mandates and cultural requirements from one country to another.  

It can look like:  

  •  A case-use model that evaluates new programs at local levels based on fairness across the company at the global level. If parental leave policies are generous in one area, the company may alter leave policies globally to ensure fairness.  
  • An overarching philosophy or set of company values that guide decision-making at local levels, such as prioritizing family-owned values when choosing benefits. 

See the video below for tips and tricks for navigating international employment benefits and compensation

Build an equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement 

An equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement demonstrates to your workforce and candidate pool that your brand will offer equitable hiring for all. 

Your policy should detail: 

  • Your formal commitment not to discriminate against current or prospective employees for any reason 
  • How your leadership ensures equity during the hiring process 
  • Formal complaint procedures and accountability protocols 

This statement will be one of the backbones of your equitable workplace.  

Work in Any Way 

Consider incorporating a broader shift in company culture and workforce management. Work in Any Way is a flexible, unbound philosophy that serves as a collaboration between employee and employer in order to serve the needs of both. People-centric aspects of company culture like remote or hybrid work with flexible hours, mentorship programs, reskilling opportunities, increased vacation time and paid parental leave, for example, can positively impact productivity, morale and company loyalty, and create a more equitable workplace among employees. 

Incorporating aspects of Work in Any Way into your organization can build a more equitable, sustainable and future-thinking workplace. 

How an employer of record can help your organization be more equitable 

Making your nonprofit or NGO more equitable is a formidable task, and it helps to have experts on your side. When it comes to drawing up international employment contracts that cover all the regulatory bases, no matter what country you have workers in, you’ll want to partner with local market experts in order to give employees the inclusion they need while also remaining in compliance.  

A global employer of record (EOR) is a flexible solution to help you hire and manage the employees you need and treat them equitably.  

An EOR: 

  • Saves you time, enabling you to hire, onboard and pay employees and contractors in whatever country the mission is based 
  • Ensures compliance, because all HR processes (including employment contracts) remain within regulation and free from the risk of misclassification  
  • Eliminates the need for an entity, enabling your nonprofit or NGO to quickly enter host countries and employ workers and contractors  
  • Has predictable costs, which is helpful for all international nonprofits and NGOs who are conscious of budgets, want to make sure that they use funds wisely and don’t want to risk noncompliance fees or penalties  

Have questions about how Safeguard Global services can help you create a more equitable workplace for your global workers, as well as help you carry out your mission? Reach out to one of our global solutions advisors today

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