The Leap’s Inclusion and Access Plan
Policy Statement - Non-Discrimination:
The Leap strives hard to promote a community which respects and values the possibilities and dignity of all individuals, shared values of understanding, respect, tolerance, honesty, openness, kindness and sensitivity amongst all its members, aiming to enable each individual to achieve their potential. The Leap encourages diversity, aware that this positively impacts our society and strengthens community bonds and relationships. We seek a diverse and inclusive workforce aligned to our Values.
The Leap does not allow any discrimination based on race, colour, disability, age, gender or gender expression, origin, religion, sexual orientation or any other factor applicable in law. All staff responsible for recruitment, development, training or managing employees, including management of our programs and activities, are responsible for adhering to these instructions and responding quickly, appropriately and pro proportionally to any issues brought to their attention. The Leap will comply with any local laws and regulations.
Inclusion and Access of Staff and Volunteers:
Staff: Both at Leap HQ and overseas we demonstrate our desire for inclusion, by encouraging diversity amongst our staff and presently have a wide range of individuals: men, women, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) from different and diverse backgrounds, helping us facilitate our goals and achieve our aims. Our staff overseas, in the field, are locally hired and trained and reflect their local culture in order to be as inclusive and diverse as possible. Our overseas staff will be trained and encouraged in their careers including promotion to project leaders with direct responsibility for students. It is our aim to hire and train UK staff from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Cultural diversity is nurtured, showcased and respected via the many wonderful people helping us in a variety of different countries including Latin & Central America, Africa and South East Asia, providing different perspectives that benefit our programs.
Leap Volunteers: We offer all our programmes to young adults from a wide range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. This includes individuals with disabilities when its safe for those individuals to attend a program and individuals that identify themselves as persons of colour, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC. In order to attract and make our programs as accessible to as many people as possible, we provide comprehensive fundraising advice (including how to obtain scholarships/grants and financial aid) and advice on how to raise the money including through which organisations and channels, to provide a financial aid program for those who need assistance. US participants on our program can obtain college credits due to our accredited membership of the Gap Year Association (GYA). Our application process is need-blind.
Mission Statement on Inclusion and Access:
The Leap aims to create a caring, welcoming environment encouraging all to achieve their goals, by supporting and highlighting opportunities amongst diverse individuals in the workplace and our community. We believe that we are all far stronger, culturally far richer and connected when inclusion and access is a central and important factor in guiding behaviour. We have travelled far, and we are proud of our achievements, however we recognise that we need to strive to improve, and we are committed to doing so.
We intend to create a culture where diversity and inclusion are a priority. The Leap will task an employee to be responsible for diversity and inclusion, who reports to senior management quarterly to highlight progress and to further the company’s literature to further promote diversity initiatives, this includes staff training and external workshops, including industry practices.
Strategic Mission, Targets, Challenges, Solutions and Priorities:
The Leap has identified that access and inclusion not only help provide a multinational and diverse Leap team but helps us recruit high calibre staff and participants. We welcome individuals with disabilities as well as other underrepresented and culturally diverse groups. It’s important to us that we continue to increase the diversity of our volunteers and continually seek to improve access to our programs.
We recognise the key challenges that need to be addressed to increase our access and inclusiveness, we identify these as follows: a) under resourced, b) lack of underrepresented students including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, c) lack of awareness regarding the values and benefits of a well-structured learning ‘gap year’ experience amongst individuals, their friends, parents and teachers, d) resistance/lack of interest from peers, teachers and parents.
We currently attract approximately 4% of individuals from this cohort who participate on our programmes. We recognise this is a low number and through the specific solutions we have identified and outlined below we aim to attract the following number of individuals from this cohort: 5% from "underrepresented" students by the end of 2022, 7% by then end of 2023 and 12% by then end of 2024.
In order to overcome these challenges, we aim to do the following:
- Under resourced: We provide comprehensive fundraising advice to each individual (including how to obtain scholarships/grants and financial aid) and advice on how to raise the funds, including identifying organisations and channels. We aim to offer these individuals a discount and in return they must go back and give a talk on the benefits of our program to individuals at their old school/college, this would have the potential of providing access to individuals and communities we may not yet be reaching. Currently we provide financial assistance (discounts etc) to approx. 15% of participants. Our target is to reach a point where 20-25% of our participants are receiving some type of financial assistance. This is likely to increase as we expand our efforts through targeted marketing, as our programs grow, and as knowledge of our program grow. US participants on our program can obtain college credits due to our accredited membership of the Gap Year Association (GYA).
- Lack of underrepresented students: we will tailor a specific marketing strategy and effort aimed strategically at focusing on schools/colleges where we can showcase our programs to these individuals. This includes more talks and gap year fairs, including events such as woman’s safety abroad, workshops on travel advice, radio shows etc.
- Lack of awareness regarding the values and benefits: We aim to overcome this by clearly showcasing the benefits and value of a well-structured gap year that helps educate participants, their parents and teachers. There is an abundance of evidence supporting the benefits from a prospective employer and university/college that individuals who have participated in a well-structured gap year are highly regarded and employable due to the ‘soft skills’ they have developed such as, budgeting, teamwork, overcoming challenges, resilience, public speaking etc. In a competitive world these attributes allow the candidate to stand out from the crowd and enhance their CV/resume.
- Resistance/lack of interest from peers, teachers and parents: We aim to overcome this this by clearly showcasing the benefits and value of a well-structured gap year that helps educate participants, their parents and teachers. We will highlight that our team-based approach to programs is attractive to individuals as they get to travel with like minded individuals, irrespective of whether they don’t have a friend to travel with. We recognise that many parents in this cohort don’t wish their child to take a gap year because they themselves didn’t so have no understanding of the benefits and prefer their children to go straight to college to focus on a professional career course such as law, dentistry etc. Whilst we do not offer career-based intern programs we can highlight the benefits of a gap year in increasing their child’s success when applying for a university course and being offered their first choice, as these educational establishments highly value students who have taken a gap year and it also assists them when applying for a job when they graduate. We aim to help inform and educate teachers in these schools as to the benefits of recommending a gap year, pointing out the wealth of statistics that support this.
Expanding our social media marketing to underrepresented communities, BIPOC and LGTBQ+. We recognise that by having more BIPOC, LGTBQ+. / Underrepresented students they will feel more comfortable with like-minded peers in their cohort. We will increase the number of images that showcase underrepresented students and staff. We have many wonderful adult BIPOC project leaders who provide a vital role of mentor, leader, guide and friend.
We plan to include information regarding any local laws that participants need to comply with to ensure these participants are aware of laws that differ from their home country and which may make them feel unwelcome, in order that they make suitable choices for themselves.
We plan to take GYA’s DEIA (diversity, equity, Inclusion and Accessibility) Self-Study and have that be an external commitment to improvement.
We aim to carry out research and identify more activities appealing to non-white students and promoting those options on our marketing materials. We will also highlight BIPOC testimonials. We will also coordinate and advertise through specific channels that appeal to these key audiences, setting aside a marketing budget with different recruitment channels for these audiences.
on 05 / 04 / 2019