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Black Lives Matter in the international development sector: two short pieces

  • Jun 9, 2020

Charlie’s simple questionnaire for international development organisations that say Black Lives Matter

  1. How senior is your most senior i) non-white ii) Global South colleague?
  2. What percentage of your 19-20 paybill went to i) non-white ii) Global South colleagues?
  3. What proportion of your offices in the Global South are currently open and operational?
  4. What proportion of your internationally relocatable staff are currently deployed in country of operation, and what proportion have been withdrawn “because COVID”?
  5. On a scale of 1-10, how does your health insurance for your national staff compare with that of your international staff?
  6. Have you consistently maximised development value for money? Including arbitrage on exchange rates?
  7. Can you confirm you haven’t got a contracts vehicle registered in Mauritius, or somewhere equally low-tax?
  8. If for profit, do you or your subsidiaries pay i) income ii) profit taxes in the countries you work in?
  9. What proportion of your non-exec governance is i) non-white ii) Global South colleagues?

And some reflections in response to Zehra Rizvi’s suggestive question to international development colleagues to name their last supervisor that was a person of colour – if any

My first job was at Episcopal Church of the (then) Sudan, my direct line manager international, but he was in Khartoum and I was in Juba, and we were both serving under excellent South Sudanese clergy and church administrators.

After that, I worked for a series of Under Secretaries, DGs and Ministers in #SouthSudan : and this will be the same for anyone working seriously with country systems.

Now I’m the Managing Director, so, by definition, I don’t have an executive supervisor: but our CFO, 3/5 of our Country Coordinators, half our developer team, and the super-majority of our staff are black. Our people page is not up to date but gives general idea.

We don’t do unpaid internships: we recruit, globally, to a paid fellowship, and we specifically look for talent that wouldn’t be able to afford to do this on their own ticket.

There’s lots to be done: I have the privs, & failings, of a Scholarship Boy; our governance isn’t diverse in gender, age or race.

In July, we will report in our Annual Report against the nine questions I set out – then try to improve. Thank you to Zehra Rizvi for posing the question, and doing the heavy lifting.

PS a shout out to some other organisations that seem to us notably more equal than average: the Windle Trust family, Development Pathways, and ODI, for the focus of its Fellowship, and its Budget work, on supporting countrysystems.