Our Work to Become an Anti-Racist Organization 18 August 2020 – Women Deliver

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Women Deliver's Transformation: Our Work to Become an Anti-Racist Organization

For more than a decade, Women Deliver has championed gender equality, anchored in advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and rights. But we have fallen short by working towards more equality while also contributing to inequality and systemic racism, which cannot be tolerated. To fully deliver on our mission of health and rights for all girls and all women, we must and will reexamine our past and reimagine our future.

Women Deliver will become an anti-racist organization, grounded in intersectional principles, and foster a culture of respect and inclusion for all.

We are grateful to current and former employees, Young Leaders, partners, and fellow advocates and activists who have offered testimonies, made recommendations, asked questions, and challenged us to reexamine our values, actions, and privilege. We are listening, we are acknowledging, we are learning, and we are taking action.


1. Women Deliver will examine, acknowledge, and address past wrongs 

  • First and foremost, we acknowledge and validate the testimonies of pain expressed by former and current staff. The third-party investigation into Women Deliver will examine the range of issues that have been raised, past and present, and the Board will take appropriate action based on the investigation’s findings and recommendations and make the outcome of the investigation public. Additionally, Women Deliver will continue to acknowledge that we have failed to uphold our own values which has led to a deficit of trust among partners and staff. We will work to rebuild that trust internally and externally. 

2. Women Deliver will reform internal structures, policies, and culture 

  • Recognizing that change must start with ourselves, we will examine and reform our own structures and policies to create a more equitable and inclusive organization with increased diversity at all levels. And knowing that policies on paper won’t add up to change without a supportive, enabling environment, we will take steps to build back trust, inclusion, and equity within our culture so that these changes are ingrained in our organization’s ethos. We will have thoughtful, clear, and fair policies paired with a culture that enables us to live our values.

3. Women Deliver will transform our advocacy, practices, and programs   

    • Equally as important as changing internally, we must transform our work so that we are not reinforcing systems of white supremacy, colonialism, and racism but actively dismantling them. Intersectionality must be the cornerstone of our strategy and our programming. We must design and implement that strategy and programming in partnership with the people most impacted by the work.  
  • 4. Women Deliver will embrace accountability, learning, and sharing     

    • We will embrace continuous learning, encourage feedback from staff, partners, and others, be transparent in our transformation, and share learnings to encourage others to transform. We will lead by example and approach this work with humility. There is no final destination in the work to become anti-racist and intersectional — it is a continuous process and will require continuous work.
  • 5. Women Deliver will change how we partner to drive inclusive, sustainable change within ourselves, our sector, and the world    

    • To do this work, we also need to reconsider our partnership approach: how leadership partners with staff, how we partner with external organizations, and how we partner with the people who will be most impacted by our advocacy to create a more gender-equal world. Changes to our partnership approach start by being consultative in how we transform and continue as a core organizational principle to create a better Women Deliver, a stronger movement for gender equality, and more sustainable change.


    • On Tuesday, 16 June, our Board of Directors announced it would appoint a third party to independently investigate the range of issues that have been raised, past and present, and they will take appropriate action based on the findings of that investigation, which is expected to conclude by late summer/early fall.
    • Katja Iversen, Women Deliver’s CEO, issued a statement of apology and has taken a leave of absence until the conclusion of the investigation process.
    • The Board appointed Kathleen Sherwin, COO, as Interim CEO to help guide the organization through the coming period.
    • We have begun to review and act upon the review of over 140+ recommendations provided by our staff, Young Leaders, and intersectionality and DEI experts — which we refer to as "Our Transformation Roadmap".
    • To ensure our own transformation is developed for lasting change, leadership has involved all staff in the process — which has included the creation of task forces and working groups to engage in the 140+ recommendations including:
      • DEI Task Force
      • Intersectionality Task Force
      • Fundraising Task Force
      • Strategy Implementation Working Group
      • Communications Working Group
      • Partner Engagement Working Group
    • Women Deliver has been continuing to work with ReadySet, experts in DEI, since January 2020 — and has extended their work with us to include all-staff trainings in August 2020 through the end of the year on topics such as Ally Skills Training, Feedback Training for People Managers, and Communication Practices for People Managers.
    • We have developed an updated Compensation Philosophy strategy along with FAQs for staff and managers related to salary bands and will be conducting trainings on these practices in late August. Additionally, Women Deliver will add salary ranges to all job postings on our Careers Page by September.
    • We have held three (to date) town hall-style meetings with Women Deliver Young Leaders and Alumni to answer questions and start a dialogue in June and August 2020.
    • We have held twice a week virtual open office hours with the interim CEO to have an open forum for staff to ask questions, provide feedback, or offer suggestions.
    • We have increased internal communications and transparency by providing regular updates via Slack and email — including sharing meeting agendas, meeting notes, and action items, pulse surveys, and staff polls.
    • We have provided optional discussion spaces for continued sharing and with emphasis on our own Black colleagues and colleagues of color, with support from ReadySet and experienced facilitators.
    • We have expanded our mental health offerings to include additional mental health days and service offerings from Headspace.
    • We have been continuing to work with Paradox of Leadership, experts in leadership development and coaching, since 2018 — and have extended their work with us to include all-staff trainings in July, August, and September 2020 on Navigating Change, Self-Care, Energy Management, and Motivation & Stress Management.
    • We have expanded our Coordination Team (our leadership team) meetings during this transition period, starting in July 2020 — to include representatives from junior and mid-level staff, across all departments/programs and are meeting twice per week in this format through the end of September 2020 when we will re-assess format and structure.
    • We have continued developing our next five-year strategy — deepening our examination of intersectionality, with support from SRI Strategy and QED Consulting, who have provided feedback specifically around how the strategy explores anti-racism and principles of intersectionality.
    • We are achieving clarity around our definitions on anti-racism and exploring decolonizing, with a similar approach to our recent work on principles of intersectionality.
    • We have continued to be transparent in our communication with our partners, funders, and community on our transformation, including one-on-one calls, town halls, and via our website, social media, and Women Deliver newsletter.
    • Developing metrics for our  public commitments and our Transformation Roadmap.
    • Publishing our baseline hiring and retention rates for Black people, people of color, and underrepresented groups.
    • Continue to hire more Black people, people of color, and underrepresented groups and strengthen the diversity of our recruitment pipelines, including for our open leadership positions.
    • Launching Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), including budgetary support.
    • Refreshing our Personnel Policy Handbook — and prioritizing a policy refresh by early September 2020 for paid parental leave and bereavement leave policies, as well as documenting a transparent internal hiring/promotion process and feedback/grievance process.
    • Revising our Media and Digital Engagement Policy, so that staff has clear and transparent guidelines to help support their own advocacy.
    • Launching a series of Young Leader Program Transformation engagement opportunities for August, September, and October 2020 — including dialogues, surveys, and co-designed activities with Young Leaders, with support from BIPOC facilitators in partnership with Kore Global, leading experts in gender equality and social inclusion research, strategy, design, and evaluation.


    Good advocates identify problems, highlight solutions, push for commitments, and hold people accountable to their promises. That’s what we’ve strived to do for 10 years around the world, and what we must — and will — do to transform ourselves.


    LAST UPDATED: 18 August 2020

    See previous update here.



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