During our outreach process, we found it very difficult to engage certain marginalized groups, such as the Indigenous community, the black community, LGBTQ2S, religious minorities, and different ethnicities. Some of these groups expressed consultation fatigue as the main reason for their lack of interest in participating. They had been brought into different initiatives and asked for their opinion many times, however, they often never see their perspectives in the result. Some others had experienced tokenism, where they were only recruited to give the appearance of diverse engagement without their input being genuinely considered. Overall, they had not been provided strong motivation or incentive to participate in a co-design process, and they could not see how their participation would benefit their community.
As we progressed, we also recognized that we often overlook the fact that marginalized groups, similar to any other community, have diverse needs and experience discrimination, exclusion, and hierarchies. Thus, within marginalized communities, there were people experiencing exclusion. Identifying and engaging with those outliers within marginalized communities was a fundamental challenge. We were only able to address this issue with the assistance of people and organizations who had a deep understanding of those communities and were aware of their complex interrelationships. This process takes time to build trust and reciprocity with communities.
- During your invitation process, be honest and transparent about the project objectives, process, and outcomes, and limitations or constraints of your project.
- Clearly communicate how the collected information from the participants will be handled and shared with the community, and the role they will play in the process.
- Clearly describe any financial compensation or other incentives for participation.
- Work with communities and organizations who are working with marginalized groups to better understand their context.
- Engage marginalized groups in a discussion about how they experience exclusion within their communities.