GAIN is committed to building a more equitable, diverse and inclusive workforce where all differences between people: their life experiences, professional backgrounds, knowledge and the varied perspectives they bring, are recognised and valued in a meaningful way.
GAIN is committed to ensuring that every member of staff is treated fairly and with respect, has equal access to opportunities and resources, and is able to achieve their potential and to thrive in a workplace free from harassment or discrimination, able to contribute fully to GAIN’s purpose and impact.
GAIN has made some progress towards these commitments including an updated Equality and Diversity Policy (originally launched in 2019) and with regard to gender (we are ranked as one of the top performers in the Global Health 50/50 Report, both in 2020 and 2021). Yet, we know we have more to do to embed values of equity, diversity and inclusion throughout our culture, policies, systems, processes and practices.
Events in May/June 2020 in the USA brought to the fore the issue of overt racism, implicit or unconscious bias and microaggressions. Whilst these had a specific US context, they rightly caused us to stop and ask about the extent to which such issues affect the working experience of GAIN colleagues. Subsequent discussions at staff meetings and in representative offices highlighted the fact that members of staff do not always experience the environment where they live and work as equal or inclusive.
So, in August 2020, we committed to taking an honest look at the current state of equity, diversity and inclusion at GAIN.
We committed to transparency in what we found and what we learned – transparency to our staff, and transparency with our external partners.
This is what we have learned, so far, and what we are doing about it.
The process started with the formation of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force, which was empowered by staff and the Strategic Management Team to undertake four interrelated activities:
- to benchmark GAIN against other organizations
- to review key GAIN policies and to ascertain how EDI sensitive they are
- to listen to staff and understand their lived experiences and how this relates to EDI
- to make a prioritized set of recommendations to GAIN leaders and all GAIN staff which move GAIN closer to its desired state (as defined by our staff).
The benchmarking against public sector, private sector and civil society organisations shows that GAIN is average for our sector. Our review of 4 key GAIN policies identified many areas where we could raise the profile of EDI and make the policies more user friendly in general. Our all-staff survey (with an 86% response rate or 198 responses from 231 total staff) revealed that overall staff feel good about GAIN and this has improved steadily over the past 3 years.
Nevertheless, the survey also revealed that only 65% of staff agree with the statement 'If I witness behaviour I strongly disagree with, I feel able to say so'.
Staff in three self-selected externally run focus groups (n=30 in total) felt we were at a score of 3 in our progression to the ideal EDI score of 5 (with 1 being not close at all). The focus groups identified people wanting to feel more included across the different geographies, functions and levels of seniority. There was a sense of "sameness" in leadership. The focus group participants felt we could do more to make the most of the diversity we do have at GAIN and called for more awareness raising of the range of lived experiences that our staff have.
The process exposed several truths and revealed opportunities for growth. We are not terrible, we are not brilliant. We are average, but we want nothing about us to be average.
We identified clear steps that we are beginning to take. 18 recommendations were made by the Task Force, endorsed by the Strategic Management Team and shared with our Board in December 2020. Work has begun to implement these recommendations, with clear next steps and timelines agreed.
If the recommendations are the most visible manifestation of our work, the conversations that we have started to have are probably more important and impactful. We have only just started to peel the layers of this onion. It remains daunting, but it is clear that the most important changes are embedded in the process, the conversations, in getting to know one another better and in building trust.
We will report on progress to our Board in July and we will put out a further public update when we have more to share.
Thank you for engaging in GAIN’s journey and we wish you all the best in your own journey, be it organisational, personal or both.