Radical HR themes

Explore the types of policy that RadHR members have developed and shared in the policy library.


​​Below are descriptions of the broader themes we think are important to consider when trying to create policies and processes that fit our values—as well as details of specific policy areas and the types of questions we might want to be asking within each of them.

They should help give a sense of the type of policies and processes that are relevant to your group or organisation.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, check out the RadHR library and search for what others have shared.


Sharing money more equitably

Dealing with money well can be a thorny issue for many progressive groups and organisations. For instance, many of us rail against wider structural inequality, but end up adopting corporate pay structures which replicate this. Often people with the most ‘professionalised’ skills and experience earn much more than people doing manual labour or community-facing roles, reinforcing already-existing privilege. When we hire freelancers we often don’t think about their lack of security, or how we could treat them differently. Frequently we think ‘we don’t have enough money’ for things like extended sick pay, which often further disadvantages the people who are already experiencing the most structural oppression.


Flat pay? Need-based pay? Small difference between pay grades? There are a lot of progressive ways to think about pay, and how different sorts of work are valued and rewarded. You might also want to think about things like: whether people with caring responsibilities should get a pay subsidy. Or people with disabilities. And whether you take into account inherited wealth when deciding who gets paid what. Even if you have subsidies available, or a needs-based pay system, it’s still tricky to make sure money is fairly distributed because often people at the sharpest end don’t feel comfortable admitting their needs. How do we create a culture which ensures that members/staff with the greatest financial needs don’t feel ashamed to ask for it? (Have a look at theme 3 for some ideas.)


We know that money management is important, but we also know that keeping tabs on every last penny is much harder when your life is already full of challenges and stress. Expenses can be critical for letting a range of people get involved in your work. Can your expenses policy accommodate all these realities?


Whether it’s thinking about each of our futures and ensuring we have the right supports in place when we’re older, or about what kinds of investments we are comfortable with our pensions being attached to, there is a lot to think through when it comes to living our values for staff after they’ve retired.

Sick pay

Everybody gets sick. However, many types of illness are more likely to be faced by folks who are already experiencing wider disadvantages or oppressions. What does a sick pay policy that recognises these inequalities and still works within your group’s budget look like? And what steps can take us closer to our ideals around meeting people’s needs when they are ill?

Freelance pay

Many small groups start off paying people as freelancers. While the flexibility works for some people , the lack of basic protections that salaried workers are entitled to can seriously disadvantage others (particularly people with less financial security, or, for instance, with caring responsibilities or disabilities). If we don’t make active efforts to think through the additional hurdles that freelancers face – such as lack of holiday time, lack of work space and additional personal administration – we limit who is able to take on work within the group or organisation.

Organisational reserves

Countless policies require more money than our groups have at a given moment and not all of those costs can be easily predicted in advance. If we want to be able to accommodate staff who become ill, have children, or take on caring responsibilities, or if we want to be able to employ people who perhaps have greater financial needs and costs, we need to think about having organisational reserves to help us do so. We need to ask: how much is appropriate to save and how are we going to build it up, so it is there when needed?


Needing to make members of a team redundant is almost always going to be a difficult process. It can sometimes be necessary, though, in order to allocate our funds most effectively. Even if redundancy is a last option in most situations, it can be done in ways that are aligned with the care and compassion we want to bring to our work. There is a huge difference between unthinking, disengaged or very top-down and directive redundancies and ones in which, for instance, staff are consulted, offered temporary wage drops, supported into parallel roles in the groups, or offered training, coaching or dedicated work time to find new roles.

Centring and prioritising care

Very few of our organisations are happy with the political and economic system we live in which prioritises profits over people. So if we’re really going to live our values, we need to make sure we make space for looking after each other—and create a culture where different types of care are recognised and valued. There are many different policies and processes which can help us build this kind of culture, make clear where our organisation or group stands on different questions of care and allow us to take steps towards making e the responsibility for it more collective.

Care leave for self

(Medical, bereavement, sickness, mental health and disability-related)

We all need time off sometimes. It may be planned (undergoing surgery, or some kinds of medical or mental health support), or unplanned (bereavement, many types of illness). Our organisations need to have policies and processes in place for both scenarios. How can we ensure that staff who need time away feel supported to take it, whilst also making sure that the rest of the staff’s workloads are sustainable? Sometimes this might mean hiring freelance help or increasing someone’s paid hours temporarily, in order to ensure that these different needs are met. How much can you afford to do this? What steps could you take to improve what you can offer?

Care leave for others

(Dependants, compassionate, parental and adoption)

Relationships of care are often unseen and undervalued in wider society. How can we shift this within our organisations and ensure our policies and processes support staff or group members to have the space and time to look after others (whether this is children—their own or others; sick or disabled loved ones, or anyone else in their lives who needs care). Are there ways we want to go beyond statutory requirements: in terms of the amount of time off we allow people to take; the types of care leave that people get paid for; or the type of caring relationships we recognise (e.g. going beyond family or members of the same household)? And how do we balance supporting staff or members’ caring relationships with the needs of the organisation as a whole?

Sickness / Disability

What systems will help us to help each other to both prevent illness and support one another when we are ill? How do we make sure that people with long term physical or mental health challenges feel equal in our organisations and can be involved in the work in ways that suit both them and the organisation?


What policies and procedures can we put in place to help make sure that the need for time off is taken seriously and that people’s differing needs around this are recognised? Are there ways to build enough trust between each other that we can let each person decide their own work/leave balance in a way that makes sense for them?

Mental health support

Having mental health support in place is critical for any group trying to prioritise care. This is particularly true when the group is composed of or working with people at the sharp end of social injustice, where experiences of trauma or violence might be more likely. But the need for it is not limited to those groups – there is potential for harm in many areas of social change work. There are numerous possible approaches to building mental health support into your group’s structures. For instance: co-supervision spaces between staff or volunteers; subsidised staff counselling or self-care budgets; agreed days off during particularly difficult periods of work; or access to relevant training.


Thinking creatively about how staff or members can grow and progress in their roles takes active planning, particularly in organisations with flat structures. Mentoring can happen between members of a team, or with outside support from individuals with relevant work or life experiences or identities. Whoever does it, it is important to think carefully about how you will avoid replicating wider societal hierarchies in your mentoring relationships, in terms of who should be learning from whom and the value of different types of knowledge, experiences and understanding.

Flexible working

(Remote work, part-time work, out-of-hours work)

Accessibility means some may need to work remotely. Some may need flexible hours. Some may not be able to work full time. It is easy for workers to be penalised by default for having different working needs, so a range of policies might be needed to cover them, including: part-time working, out-of-hours working, remote working, etc. The more flexibility you can offer, the more likely it is that a wider range of people will feel able to be part of your organisation.

Data protection

For those at the sharp end of wider social injustices, where our data goes can be the difference between life and death. Run-ins with immigration enforcement, social services and police are real threats linked to the sharing of personal data, so our data protection policies should be asking questions beyond basic privacy concerns.

Wellbeing support

What processes can we put into place to facilitate active care for each other within the group/org? Are there structures we can put in place to ensure that everyone has someone to turn to for support, such as peer or mutual support structures? Do group members need training in how to support each other equitably? Do we want everyone in the org to be involved in supporting each other, or is this a role that’s assigned to certain people? And how do we make sure that in our everyday work, and especially when things are stressful, we centre and prioritise wellbeing?

Staff supervision & reviews

Are there ways we can collaboratively assess how people are managing in their roles? Ways which assume people are decent and doing what they can, and if they aren’t getting their work done, there is likely a good reason for it and that it may be a wider organisational problem? How can we build in extra forms of support to help someone grow into their role? Or structure accountability in a less top-down way (e.g. through peer supervision processes)? And how do we balance this approach with the need to just get the work done- especially in organisations where there is urgency created by the wider world (e.g. the welfare system) or the nature of the work (e.g. in a business such as a cooperative bakery)? (In situations where tensions are higher or more malicious or harmful actions have played out, some of the policies in Section 5 may be more useful to think about accountability and conflict in non-punitive ways).


As with redundancy, the process through which people leave your group or organisation can be done with care and compassion. It can also be seen as an opportunity for learning and for deepening your understanding of those people’s experiences. Exit interviews are often treated as a formality in traditional HR practice, but are a really important chance to reflect on someone’s experience of your group, at a point when they are no longer reliant on it for a paycheque (which might allow them to be more honest than current staff).

Broadening who’s involved

Most organisations using this site are probably committed to making our groups accessible to a wider range of people. But, even with the best intentions, standard diversity and inclusion policies and processes can be fairly empty. Especially if (as is often the case) the people leading the processes are from a narrowly-privileged demographic themselves. If we want our organisations to engage in these issues in a deeper, more meaningful way we need to think beyond quotas or tick-boxes, and towards redefining group cultures that have been shaped by those with wider social power and privilege.

Equal opportunities

Equal opportunities policies are often tokenistic and individualistic ways to address entrenched power imbalances. But they don’t have to be! What would a clear framework for shifting organisational culture and practices look like? One which really prioritised including a wider range of people in the work, rather than just setting numeric targets – which can mask power remaining in the hands of white people, men, those with particular education, etc?

Hiring & recruitment

This is one of the first ways that classism, racism, ableism, transphobia and other oppressions can play out in an organisation, often in subtle ways that are difficult to see and overcome. We need to look deeply at our hiring processes and how they might—without us realising—privilege people from certain backgrounds, with certain types of experience or education, or who know certain cultural codes and how to fit in with the mainstream ‘ways of being in the organisation.’


How do we bring new people—especially people from backgrounds that are different from the main demographic in the group—into the mix and ensure they understand and feel included in our ways of working, while also making space to learn and hear from their past experiences and their reflections on how we do things in our group?


Thoughtful outreach processes can be very useful for bringing folks who are not ‘the usual suspects’ into your work. But how do you do this in a way that doesn’t feel patronising or imposing, and that meets people on their own terms? Are current team members the best people for it or is it better to work with another group who have more insights about the communities or demographics you want to involve? And how willing are you to shift your group/org culture to make it somewhere that others might feel comfortable to be part of?


The process of defining who is part of our groups and what that means can be complex. What are the organisation’s responsibilities to those involved? And what expectations does the group hold individual members to? Even agreeing if there are criteria on which some people can or can’t join the group (ie – people who are involved in carrying out evictions joining a renters union) can mean exploring complex intersections of different identities and experiences of power. Defining who is – and isn’t – part of a group, can help make a range of future group decisions easier, but to do so in a way that both establishes safety and clarifies group identity isn’t easy!

See also: Decision-making.


Many organisations who want to work more radically often have to stick to a formal charity structure in order to meet funders’ and other obligations. This comes with the obligation to have trustees who officially have final say in the organisation’s decisions. There are different ways round this. One is to agree with the trustees that they won’t actually get involved in decision-making. Another other is to make sure that your trustees are from a wide range of backgrounds and that you have a sufficient number who are reflective of the work of the organisation or its ‘client group.’ If you choose the second option, you’ll need to start thinking about how those with less informal power will actually be able to be heard in those situations. Have a look at the ‘decision-making’ section in Theme 4 for some ideas.


This is an area where it’s easy for progressive groups to act in a slightly mercenary way, treating volunteers as free labour without many ‘rights’ in the organisation. If we want to do it differently, there are a number of questions to think about. How do we include volunteers in our work – are they treated and valued equally to paid members of staff? How is their contribution acknowledged? Are they included in decision-making processes? Can we use our volunteering programmes as a way to bring a broader range of people into the group? And if we do this, what will we do to make space and opportunities for them in the organisation, learn from their understandings and experiences, and ensure it is a meaningful opportunity for them?

Shifting power and hierarchies

Many of our organisations disagree with how different types of people, work and knowledge are valued in our societies. But often the ways we share responsibility, information and decision-making can replicate this – even when we’re really trying to work non-hierarchically. This is an area where sharing our different approaches could really help us all shift unequal dynamics in our organisations.

Division of labour / Responsibility sharing

Who should do what kinds of work? How do we avoid gendered (or class or race-based) differences of responsibility? How do we challenge dominant notions of which roles are more or less valuable? What systems allow for people to specialise and work to their strengths, while also learning new skills and sharing out the work that no one is super-keen to do? What systems of ‘leadership’ can we use to make sure that power doesn’t accumulate in certain roles? And that roles that hold power, such as financial ones, are not only held by those who already have the most power, privilege, or formal education?


Full-consensus or super-majority voting? To inform, consult, or decide together? How do we make sure that the most privileged don’t dominate or subtly control group decision making processes? How do we make room for different types of knowledges, especially those that are not usually seen or valued in wider society? How do we ensure that – often time-consuming – collective decision-making processes, don’t exclude those with less available time or headspace? Without strong decision making processes, even small choices can lead to big conflicts and already-marginalised voices and perspectives being further excluded.

Financial transparency

We want to be transparent about finances so everyone can see where money’s going and help decide on priorities. But how can we balance this with the fact that people in low-income, insecure work, or in the benefits system, can’t always be transparent about their finances? What kinds of policies and processes might help? What kinds of additional training and support are needed to allow more people to engage with the discussions in a meaningful way?

Information sharing

Ensuring information – particularly financial and strategy-level information – is shared is one way to stop a few people holding on to a lot of power. How can groups/orgs create systems that facilitate information-sharing in ways that are not overwhelming and don’t create lots of extra work? And which don’t privilege those with higher literacy levels, more spare time or more confidence engaging with ‘official’ documents? Information-sharing can also be a tricky area for people in more precarious situations, who might need to keep certain information about themselves confined to the few people in the organisation who need to know it (e.g. when someone needs to be paid cash in hand for benefits or lack of work permit reasons).

Personal and professional development

How can we support one another to grow in our roles, without just focusing on building individualistic skills and qualifications in order to compete for places higher up a ladder? What skills, abilities and traits feel important to ‘develop’ in order to really enact the world we want to see? Who needs to develop them? What kinds of structures will support that development? And can we move away from an individualistic understanding of ‘personal and professional development’ to a more collective one which prioritises shifting power, status and opportunities away from those with the structural privilege to those with less?


If your group’s strategy was written on the back of an envelope, down the pub, it’s likely missing a lot of important perspectives. Who knows how your plans get made? Who takes part? How are different people supported to bring their views and ideas into the mix? Informal planning is very common in grassroots groups, but it is one way that power gets stuck in the hands of a few. What steps are you taking to make your planning process more accessible and democratic?

Learning & evaluation

If your group isn’t thinking about how it learns from its experiences, it is likely to keep repeating its mistakes. When we do evaluation for funders, we often obscure important learning from ourselves and each other, in our attempts to ‘prove’ our ‘successes’ to those who hold the pursestrings. Are there ways of doing organisational learning that highlight what hasn’t worked, without responding with blame or punishment? That pick up where important voices have been overlooked, or even silenced? That bring everyone into the conversation about what could be done differently going forward?

Group structure

The structures of our group shape our relationships and our culture. Hierarchical management vs flat collective structures are the most obvious examples, but every structure has the potential to reinforce or undermine the wider power dynamics of a group. Do working groups make autonomous decisions, or report back to a wider forum? Who is able to take part in which meetings, within an organisation? Is there clarity on which groups hold responsibilities for which areas of work? Seeing how others have structured their groups or organisations might help you decide which options are best for your group’s needs and values.

Addressing differences, disagreements, tensions and harm non-punitively

Differences in groups can range from contrasting opinions and tensions about workloads and capacity, to harm and even abuse. Preventing, addressing and working through this spectrum, towards a safer group culture without resorting to punishment is hard work. Groups need structures, processes and agreements to support this hard work, particularly in groups where there are significant differences around power and life experience.


It can be hard to imagine needing this when things are going well. But if you don’t have a policy that people can turn to when they see something really wrong happening within your group or organisation, it will be that much harder to raise it and to address it when it does. Once raised, a whole range of questions about how the situation is dealt with come up. Many of these are to do with how we can engage with conflict differently in our groups, and avoid replicating punitive and shaming ‘solutions’ to wrongdoing or harm (see the section below for more!)


(Including grievance and disciplinary and harassment and bullying)

This is an area where organisations often default to punitive measures which can easily reinforce the power of more privileged people. What can we do to recognise and address the ways that societal power differences play out in our conflicts? And how can we create grievance procedures which really take into account different perspectives and don’t make people feel shamed or blamed, and which strengthen – rather than corrode – the bonds between us?


The work our community and activist groups do challenges established power, and the pushback can include threats to physical and emotional security. Some of our groups have been, for example, targeted by fascists or corporate spies. Others have experienced mistreatment by police and other state institutions. Security is a real concern for many groups, but the culture around it can foster suspicion and mistrust within our groups. What is the right balance between awareness of potential threats and keeping our doors – literally and figuratively – open to one another?


What does a non-punitive complaints system look like? How can we make people feel okay to say if they’re not happy with someone or something in the org, or they’ve experienced abuse or harm – especially those who may have the least informal power in the organisation? Are open, public, or more private or anonymous procedures better? And how do we make sure our complaints system isn’t used to target or undermine particular members of the organisation, again particularly those with the least informal power? Are there processes we can build in that involve thinking about complaints as collective issues, where the responsibility for solving them is shared? And can we do this in ways that ensures people who might feel vulnerable or exposed, for whatever reason, feel safe?


The line between creating a supportive environment within an organisation, and making sure there is adequate accountability – to each other, boards or donors – can be tricky. Especially when some members aren’t managing to do the tasks they are meant to be doing. Or when people act in ways that don’t fit with the organisation’s safety policies and processes. Are there ways to create accountability which don’t replicate broader societal power structures, and which don’t resort to blaming, shaming or punishing? Which allow people to feel safe whilst not excluding others? Which recognise the need to get certain things done, without pushing doctrines of ‘productivity’? And which take into account what people are dealing with in their lives, outside the group or organisation?


How do you create safeguarding policies that actually make people feel safe? If you don’t want people to get into trouble with the authorities, what do you do when there is a risk of real harm to people in your group or community? What does the law actually say, and where is there room to explore our own collective safety measures? This is one of the trickiest areas for radical groups and is a space where we all need to be sharing our ideas if we want to practice our anti-oppressive values.

Safer spaces

Finding ways to make sure different people feel as safe as possible is fundamental in most radical and progressive groups. But what safety means for different people, and how to enact it, is a minefield. An uncompromising call-out approach risks creating a punishment and fear-based culture rather than a learning one, particularly if there are different understandings of what ‘safety’ means within the group.. If we exclude people from the group if their behaviour feels threatening or their language feels inappropriate, we risk further marginalising people who might already be marginalised in different ways. And then who is the safe space for? But we do need to address safety in our spaces, otherwise we risk creating/enabling more oppression for people who are already oppressed.

See also: Conflict and Accountability.

Code of conduct

You can call it any number of things, but the idea of a code of conduct is to define how you want to be together in your group or organisation. What will yours look like and how can you ensure that you’re not just creating a list of words, but are building collective buy-in to this fundamental agreement of how you treat each other? The process you use to create policies is always important, but perhaps even more so for things like codes of conduct, where it is crucial that everyone involved understands and feels invested in them.

Performance management

Performance management’ is a bit of a shiver-inducing term, with punitive implications around people ‘not doing well enough.’ If we want to avoid replicating doctrines of efficiency and productivity in our work and acknowledge the structural barriers and/or personal challenges some people in our group may have had to face, we need to think about ‘performance’ differently. But sometimes someone’s ‘performance’ at the role they are meant to be carrying out has negative impacts on colleagues or other members of our groups and something needs to shift. How can we enable these shifts in ways that hold onto the idea of structural inequality and don’t penalise people at the sharp end of it? Which engage with things that might be going wrong in wider systems rather than just focusing on the individual? And which feel collaborative rather than top-down?

See also: Accountability.

Everything else

There are A LOT of potential group policies, processes, templates and structures. We won’t have created a category for all of them, so if you’re looking for something specific, check here to see if others have uploaded anything relevant… or become the first group to upload a particular policy type! Others may not realise they needed it, until they find yours in the library!

Ethical communication

When we talk in public, representing our groups or organisations, what do we want to say? How do we avoid perpetuating stereotypes or negative images in media interviews, on our website or newsletter, in our publications? Do we want broad aims or specific ‘dos and don’ts’? Do we want specific people to hold these roles, or for them to be open to everyone? Do we want to engage reactively when we see others getting it wrong, or do we want to stick to moments and spaces where we can get our messages out on our own terms?

Media policy

Many communities have experienced the media as another source of violence and oppression in their lives. Does your group want to actively challenge that in existing media spaces? Does it want to avoid engagement with journalists completely? Does it want to establish some specific criteria for deciding if the media could be useful in particular campaign aims or is more likely to cause harm and bring negative attention to your work? The most powerful spokespeople are often those who have themselves experienced a particular injustice or oppression. And of course these experiences are crucial and must be heard. But has your group thought about how to acknowledge and respond to the distress, perhaps re-traumatisation, that re-telling painful stories in public might trigger for some people?

Social media

Have you agreed to a shared collective voice to represent your group online? Is everyone involved able to access your account, or is it managed by members who have been through some level of training and process? How do you balance the desire to keep your platforms open to a range of voices and perspectives, with being aware of the additional stress and harm that can come from making public statements and sharing political opinions, particularly for those who are facing wider violence and oppression?


How do we balance the need to secure income to sustain our work and our members with being careful about where our funding comes from and ensuring we don’t end up legitimising funders whose activities jar with our values.

Email & internet use

Coming soon…


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Health & Safety

Coming soon…

And more…

There are more types of policies and processes than we can imagine, but RadHR will be a space for you to share any internal documents that you feel have helped your group to live its values and challenge oppression in your group or organisation.

If you have other ideas about how to organise policies, let us know!