Transformation Page 30 June – Women Deliver
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Our Work to Become an Anti-Racist Organization

Former and current Women Deliver employees have spoken out on social media to say they experienced a toxic work environment, and Black former employees explicitly described how they felt tokenized, abused, and discriminated against during their time at Women Deliver. Women Deliver is taking these testimonies very seriously, and we are taking immediate, concrete action to address them and examine our structures, policies, and practices.

Women Deliver is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization,
and we have a responsibility to listen, learn, and take action.

Good advocates identify problems, highlight solutions, push for commitments, and hold people accountable to their promises. That’s what Women Deliver has done for 10 years around the world, and that’s what everyone in the organization remains focused on now, including in transforming our organization. 

  • 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 last two months.
  • Katja Iversen, Women Deliver’s CEO, issued an 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 established various internal working groups to deliver on our commitments to greater intersectionality in our advocacy work.
  • We held town hall meetings with Women Deliver Young Leaders and Alumni to answer questions and start a dialogue.
  • We have been working with ReadySet, experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion, since January 2020. That work has included a training with our full staff, holding focus groups, and reviewing our structures, policies, and practices. We are currently developing an immediate, mid-term, and long-term action plan to implement their full set of recommendations.
  • Accelerate and prioritize our ongoing DEI work as a first step toward transformative change.
  • Develop clear metrics and accountability mechanisms for our recent public commitments.
  • Apply an intersectional approach to our five-year strategic plan, which is currently under development.
  • Improve human resources and employee experience.
  • Take additional actions based on the findings of the investigation and other consultations.

1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a First Step

  • Accelerate and prioritize our ongoing DEI work by providing clear recommendations, action items, and metrics.
  • Develop clear metrics and accountability mechanisms for our recent public commitments.
    • Set clear Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion benchmarks for Women Deliver hiring processes and commit to sharing and reporting out this information.
    • Examine our retention rates for Black people, people of color, and underrepresented groups and commit to sharing and reporting out this information.
    • 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.
    • Embrace intersectionality, along with a DEI strategy, in our five-year strategic plan, which we are currently developing.
  • Partner with all staff to activate DEI recommendations and seek feedback on how to better implement and develop checks against biases.

2. Intersectionality in Our Work 

  • Outline a clear definition of what intersectionality means for Women Deliver. 
  • Apply an intersectional approach (with actions) to our five-year strategy, which is currently in development. We know that to truly deliver for all girls and all women, our strategy must better reflect that girls and women have numerous intersecting and inseparable identities. Our strategy must work to advance gender equality alongside and linked to efforts to advance racial equality, LGBTQIA+ rights, disability rights, and other pressing human rights issues.

3. Human Resources and Employee Experience

  • Provide additional, optional discussion spaces for continued sharing with an emphasis on our Black colleagues and colleagues of color. These spaces will be confidential and dedicated to those who seek more focused support, facilitated by experts in this area.
  • Ensure appropriate accountability, representation, and resourcing for our ongoing DEI priorities. To assist with achieving this goal, establish a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group with volunteers.
  • Respect that resourcing and visibility are important for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). We will launch new support for ERGs at Women Deliver, which will include a budget for activities and learning.


These are just the first steps we are taking to become an anti-racist organization, and we will actively seek internal and external feedback to challenge us as we continually reevaluate these ongoing efforts. We thank you for your partnership in this work.




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