It started with Liam and Rich, somewhere in mid-Wales, going on about how so many different types of progressive organisations they were involved with were trying to do the same thing—figure out how their internal systems could reflect the values they were trying to create in the wider world. And how it felt like a hopeless task, with everyone doing it separately, without the time or resources to really shift all the areas of their work within each of these organisations.
It occurred to them that, erm, maybe having a place where people could share their attempts at these things, could save everyone a lot of time and frustration! Liam mentioned the idea to Kiran, who he’d met when writing this article about structures vs. relationships in non-hierarchical organisations. She’d been through that painful alternative policy-writing process herself and was delighted by the idea of sharing all our attempts. So the three of us got going on the project in late 2021.
Our first step was finding money, which we were lucky to get quickly and without too much onerous form-filling, from fairly progressive-minded funders. They seemed to think the project was onto something and were keen to help make it happen. We also got loads of people signing up to our initial expression of interest form, so we knew this was something people really wanted.
Now it was time to actually create the thing! Initially RadHR was going to be a policy library, plain and simple (or not so simple as it turned out!). It would be a place where people could upload their radical HR policies and others could download them. But then we started thinking about things like:
- How would people find the policies they were looking for?
- How would they know how the policy had worked out for the group that created it?
- Was the group that created it similar enough to their own to make it relevant?
We started interviewing potential site users to see what they wanted from the site, and it turned out good filters were key to finding the docs that made sense for them! We also realised through interviews that what people wanted wasn’t just alternative versions of standard HR policies, but also to share and see what other people had done around things like collective decision-making processes, or peer review processes. So the library became broader—to include all the different procedures, processes and whatnot, that we use to make our organisations ‘radical’ and reflective of who we want to be.
It then also became clear that just uploading and downloading policies wasn’t enough. Cos none of us have perfect policies, and we can all learn from each other, people wanted a chance to be able to give feedback, to ask questions, and to discuss areas of interest or concern together. This led to plans for community elements, from online forums to offline events, built around the themes of the site.
As we were talking to people, we also realised that we needed to think carefully about our framing, if we wanted a wide range of people to use the site. It’s easy to call things ‘radical,’ but what did we actually mean by that? And was there a bunch of off-the-radar, grassroots work that was going on that challenged the status quo, but didn’t call itself ‘radical’ (as people on the sharp end of power and inequity often don’t, for a variety of reasons). Would we put off certain community groups by seeming very middle class?
We want RadHR to be a place where a wide range of groups—from the more formal voluntary sector, to workers coops, to solidarity networks, to activist groups—can learn different ways of being radical from each other. So just shout if you have any ideas on how we can make this happen more effectively! To our minds, this side of the project will always be a work-in-progress.
So now we’re at the beta site launch. We’ve got a site, and a great community of people (our ‘sounding board’—let us know if you’d like to join!), who are actively helping us make this thing something social change organisations trying to live their values can benefit from and want to use. There’s a lot to do still, to get it to a place where it’s the vibrant, self-sustaining community that we are hoping for. But it’s a start. And we’re pretty pleased with it—and super grateful for all the input, support and advice we’ve received in getting this far.
So go on, have a play around with it, upload or download a policy or two, start a conversation, and let us know what you think of RadHR!
Start the discussion at community.radhr.org