Racism, colonialism, and other forms of discrimination surround most aspects of international nonprofit work. At its most aspirational, GiveDirectly challenges a primarily white-led aid sector to hand over more power to the people it exists to help. However, we continue to look at our organization through a critical lens to disentangle our work from this legacy of racism, colonialism, and paternalism.
This starts with internal organizational dynamics, ensuring we’re building an equitable and inclusive workplace for our diverse team. GiveDirectly currently has operations in the DRC, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Morocco, Rwanda, Uganda, the U.S., & Yemen.
For the past two years, our People Team has convened annual peer-led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) focus groups of staff across the ten countries where we operate. These groups solicit feedback from our 750 person team on their experience at GiveDirectly, as well as specific ideas for making our workplace more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. In 2021, we made 38 discrete improvements that 2020 focus groups surfaced.
As this year’s DEI focus groups wrapped up last month, we’re internally taking stock of where we’ve improved and where we still have room to grow. In the interest of transparency, we’re sharing these reflections – along with some anonymized demographic data – externally, and invited seven of this year’s internal DEI focus group leaders to share their unedited thoughts.
86% of team members identify as Black/African
- 86% of the GiveDirectly team identifies as Black, African, or of African descent
- 5.4% identify as White, European, or of European descent
- 3.4% identify as Asian
- 0.6% identify as Hispanic, Latinx, or of Spanish descent
- 0.2% identify as Middle Eastern or North African
“My impression is there’s much effort put in place to achieve diversity at the organization. The major one is hiring people who are well-qualified people from different races, different tribes, different religious backgrounds, and – most importantly – different experiences. Diversity is not just about who we are, but about what different experiences we bring to the team.”Winnie Situma, Call Center Agent, Kenya, 1 year at GiveDirectly
“[One] thing that shows diversity at GiveDirectly – we find we have different beliefs, norms, and habits. We pray from different religions. We have diversity.”Moses Rwaka, Field Officer, Rwanda, 5 years at GiveDirectly
However, only 37% of senior leaders identify as Black/African
Senior leadership is defined as a “Senior Manager” and above
- 47.4% of senior leaders identify as White, European, of European Descent
- 36.8% identify as Black, African, of African Descent
- 15.8% identify as Asian
“I feel, where the organization could do more, is having diversity represented well at all levels of the organization.”Winnie Situma, Call Center Agent, Kenya, 1 year at GiveDirectly
“Even though our [team’s] director is a woman and my manager is a woman, I feel like we’re still male dominated. In group settings, conversations are mostly led by white men, which leads to the perception that white men hold most positions of power.”Roshni Desai, Data Associate, US, 6 months at GiveDirectly
“Our exec team and board are primarily white. I’d be excited to see how we can introduce more diversity at the highest level of the org as well… The most decision making power is still being held by a group of people that primarily does not represent our recipients.”Annie Kartheiser, Partnerships Manager, US, 2.5 years at GiveDirectly
45% of team members identify as female, including over half of our senior leaders
“There are a lot of diverse women leading in the middle, and that makes me feel like GiveDirectly sees the potential of me in leadership. Someone has already done this before, so I can do this. That influences how I lead in meetings, for example, even though I’m not in a leadership position now. That was one of the reasons why I chose GiveDirectly, because I saw this: two, three levels above me being women.”Roshni Desai, Data Associate, US, 6 months at GiveDirectly
“One thing I can say I’ve noticed, and it was unexpected, was having Lydiah [Wangechi] as our country director here in Kenya – she’s a lady of African descent. I’ve been shying off from applying to higher level roles in GiveDirectly, because I never believed in myself. Seeing Lydiah, it has sparked something – I’m motivated to reach for something higher. She’s a motivation to me, at least, and maybe other ladies.”Constance Mapenzi, Field Officer, Kenya, 3 years at GiveDirectly
The team skews young, with 97% of the team under the age of 45
“With age, it’s great to see that GiveDirectly believes in young talent, even in high positions. Olu [GiveDirectly’s COO], for example, is not very old but she’s in a high position.”Constance Mapenzi, Field Officer, Kenya, 3 years at GiveDirectly
4% of the team indicates having long-standing physical or mental impairment, illness, or disability.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that we don’t have many team members who are abled differently at GiveDirectly.”Constance Mapenzi, Field Officer, Kenya, 3 years at GiveDirectly
We have room to grow in areas of equity and inclusion
While focus group leaders lauded learning & development initiatives, mental health priorities, and compensation improvements as organizational strengths in 2021, we still have a lot of room to grow. These are some of the broader categories we’ve honed in on in 2021 to increase equity and inclusion org-wide – DEI focus group leaders shared their thoughts on positive changes they’ve seen in these areas, as well as ideas for continued improvement.
“One obvious equity initiative has been making sure that compensation is tied to title so that anyone who has a shared title is going to be making the same amount of money. I think that’s an important thing for equity. One way that creates a challenge is that it takes power out of the hands of employees to negotiate a salary. I’m pro the approach in general in terms of equity, but there isn’t then a pathway in which entire teams can go if they want to negotiate the salary band of a team. I think that’s a positive but also means we need to continue to be thoughtful about setting these bands moving forward.”Annie Kartheiser, Partnerships Manager, US, 2.5 years at GiveDirectly
“We pay people equally for their work, whether they are men or women. It’s something I’ve seen at GD that I haven’t seen in my other walks of life.”Dennis Oundo, Associate Field Manager, Uganda, 2 years at GiveDirectly
“I feel very included in the GiveDirectly space. The one thing is each of our teams feel pretty siloed. For example, our tech team might go into the office on the same day, and not see other teams.”Roshni Desai, Data Associate, US, 6 months at GiveDirectly
“I would say it’s a really inclusive organization. GiveDirectly takes your ideas seriously and considers that. On the GiveDirectly barometer, your view or your point is taken very seriously. GiveDirectly considers your point of view as an employee, someone who is having an impact on the org.”Moses Rwaka, Field Officer, Rwanda, 5 years at GiveDirectly
“When it comes to having the space to give our ideas, suggestions – what the org can do to make people feel valued – I feel like there’s a lot of effort put into that. There’s a lot of effort put into having everyone share their voice, for example through the barometer.”Winnie Situma, Call Center Agent, Kenya, 1 year at GiveDirectly
“To improve in inclusion, GiveDirectly should focus on valuing the point of view of people who are not in senior management. If someone in senior management is giving a point at the same time as an FO, we shouldn’t value the senior manager’s point more… On a more recent project, I liked the way senior management approached us and asked, ‘what do you think?’ and ‘how do you think this will cause challenges?'”Moses Rwaka, Field Officer, Rwanda, 5 years at GiveDirectly
“We have an open floor work plan where our managers are very accessible to us. It doesn’t get any better than this, to be honest. I’ve worked with many companies, different NGOS. I’ve never had an experience where I’m free to talk about my personal experiences and values and feel like I’m being heard. If I have a problem my supervisors can’t solve, I can go above them, and that’s OK. When we first arrived, we were taught that GiveDirectly is open.”Ntacyo10 (Alias), Internal Audit Field Officer, Rwanda, 3 months at GiveDirectly
Growth & promotions
“When it comes to equity, as far as GiveDirectly is concerned, I’ve had a pleasant experience. I know that people have my back… What I would love is extensions on our contracts. It’s one thing to know that you’re GiveDirectly staff, it’s another to know that you’ll have your job next year.”Ntacyo10 (Alias), Internal Audit Field Officer, Rwanda, 3 months at GiveDirectly
“The LinkedIn Learning initiative on professional growth and development provided an opportunity for many different people in the org to have access to material courses, learning opportunities that help us advance our professional growth. This was helpful on inclusion because a lot of us had expressed a need for that; we felt heard. And then we actually got the opportunity. Everyone got it, regardless of your contract length. We all had access to the opportunity to access informative courses. That was a good one, and commendable.”Winnie Situma, Call Center Agent, Kenya, 1 year at GiveDirectly
“We’ve been made aware of the competencies needed to be successful at the org. We had a training on it, we had the opportunity to discuss them. We used them in our discussions with our managers, [and] had the opportunity to think about how our peers are performing against these competencies. And then we talked about how we’ll improve in development discussions.”Winnie Situma, Call Center Agent, Kenya, 1 year at GiveDirectly
Mental health & wellbeing
“There will always be room for improvement, that’s for sure. But right now, in terms of employee satisfaction, I think we’ve done a pretty good job. We really care about the mental health of the staff. This is top notch. I commend the job that we’ve done here.”Dennis Oundo, Associate Field Manager, Uganda, 2 years at GiveDirectly
As the GiveDirectly team grows and as we encounter new operational opportunities, we expect to discover new challenges with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This work will be ongoing; we’ll continue to find ways to “know ourselves & grow” and aim to periodically share updates externally in an effort to invite new perspectives to the conversation.
“I’m glad to be on a team that cares about all this, because it makes people feel valued, and I think that’s what people care about most: feeling valued.”Winnie Situma, Call Center Agent, Kenya, 1 year at GiveDirectly