Shaping Our New Normal: An Unprecedented Opportunity to Reimagine the Workplace in International Development
This was a webinar in which we discussed COVID-19’s impact on the workplace for international development. We will share the results of new research conducted by Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships and discuss with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) leaders at major implementing partners timely strategies for employers to mitigate impact on our industry’s talent pipeline, in particular recent DEI gains in the industry.
COVID-19 has profoundly altered the workplace for international development professionals. From the transition to a virtual working environment to the halt in international travel, our industry has been navigating unprecedented changes to our working models, stirring important questions about what our new normal will look like and how we can lay the foundation for a more empathetic, equitable, and inclusive sector.
In MSP’s earlier research, we observed that the international development sector was not immune to the uneven effects of the pandemic and that COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting female market systems development (MSD) professionals who were experiencing higher rates of burn-out and lower morale and career ambitions compared to their male counterparts. The findings suggested that hard-won gains in DEI efforts—at least gender-wise—were being compromised, posing a significant risk of unraveling the diverse talent pipeline for MSD senior leaders.
This latest research—which includes input from 1,200 development professionals across humanitarian, WASH, agriculture, and economic growth fields representing all career levels, 23% minority voices, and 92 nationalities—explores professionals’ shifting perspectives on their careers in light of the seismic changes brought on by the pandemic. We discussed the implications with DEI leaders at two international development partners, sharing their fresh perspectives on how implementing partners are responding to these shifts and considered what the implications are for the future diversity of the sector as we reimagine a new normal for the international development workplace.
Holly Lard Krueger
The Canopy Lab
Ms. Krueger is a market systems and gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) expert with over 15 years of experience providing technical advice in the field of private sector development with a specific focus on applying digital technology, market systems, and Value for Money (VfM) principles to project and strategy design for agriculture, humanitarian aid, business enabling environment reform, trade, urban development, and women’s economic empowerment programs.
Ms. Krueger is a proven strategic leader having managed large market systems projects with diverse teams. She is also skilled as a strategic advisor, coach, and trainer in the practical application of systems approaches to market development and is currently an advisor to USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, a World Bank funded program in West Africa (TFWA), and a DFAT funded program in Indonesia (PRISMA) Ms. Krueger is based in Morocco, has worked in over 15 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and has implemented projects and conducted evaluations for leading donors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DFAT, IFC, FCDO, USAID, and the World Bank. She has a M.A. from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. from Vanderbilt University.
VP, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, Engagement, and Inclusion (DEEI)
Bobby Jefferson is DAI’s first-ever VP, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, Engagement, and Inclusion (DEEI) steeped in the issues of racial and social justice. He has reflected on those issues for two decades as a professional in the global development industry. He has lent his insights by serving on DAI’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) Steering Committee since its inception.
In 2020 Bobby joined the Board of Directors of the Society for International Development-Washington, (SIDW) D.C. Chapter, a position to which he was re-elected in 2021. As a member of SID-Washington’s Executive Committee, he has been instrumental in shaping the organization’s strategic thinking on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): chairing the DEI Committee; establishing the Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity Workgroup; and setting in motion the DEI Strategic Plan. Bobby is a founding member organization of the Coalition for Racial & Ethnic Equity in Development (CREED) and a co-chair of the Council of International Development Companies (CIDC) new DEIA Committee. He participates in British Expertise International’s Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Working Group.
Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion Senior Advisor
Swathi Massar: Swathi Massar has over 15 years of experience strengthening and driving inclusion in organizations across the globe, particularly in conflict-affected and post-conflict settings in the former Soviet Union, Middle East, and South Asia. Major efforts she has led include the incubation, growth, and independence of an NGO dedicated to promoting justice for Syria, and strengthening and promoting an inclusive community development model in South Asia that builds sustained community cohesion and development.
In her current role at Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian and development organization dedicated to alleviating suffering, poverty, and oppression, Swathi is leading Mercy Corps’ Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion priority to ensure that the organization becomes more equitable and inclusive in all the contexts where it operates. Swathi is dedicated to listening and learning from team members at all levels throughout this organizational change process, and to leveraging Mercy Corps’ assets for short-term successes while putting in place a framework for long-term behavior change.
The Canopy Lab
Ms. Kim is an experienced development researcher, evaluator, and data storyteller. She has both implemented and advised a variety of economic development programs including those focused on youth employment, workforce development, and girls’ and women’s empowerment. She is deeply knowledgeable about programs that utilize systems change approaches (including collective impact, market systems development, and chain-linked approaches) and thus brings a pragmatic approach to complex program design. Ms. Kim is well versed in mixed methods research, ranging from statistical modelling to nuanced qualitative data collection and analysis. She is also experienced in translating data into compelling and actionable insights through data visualization. From 2016 until 2021, Ms. Kim worked on the Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund (AWEF), which was highlighted by the ICAI as a “positive exception [across youth employment programs reviewed], with a robust approach to generating and using evidence.” At the World Bank, she managed a project focused on out-of-school adolescent girls in Ethiopia, which was highlighted in the Ethiopia Poverty Assessment of 2014, and field coordinated a research study looking at the welfare impact of manufacturing jobs at an industrial zone in which employees were primarily young women. Ms. Kim has a M.S. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a B.A. from Amherst College.
The Canopy Lab
Michelle LeMeur is the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Director with Mercy Corps Nepal's USAID-funded BHAKARI (Building Hope Along the Karnali River Basin) program. Her professional and extracurricular GESI experience has centered on programmatic and organizational mainstreaming including diagnostics, analyses, project management, and training. Previously, she worked as the Program Development and Grants Manager with the Mercy Corps Mali team and focused on proposal development, internal and door reporting, program quality, and gender and inclusion technical support. She has humanitarian and development experience in the sectors of economic recovery and market systems, agriculture and food security, shelter and settlements, WASH, food assistance, resilience, education, and peacebuilding, spanning Nepal, Mali, Niger, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, and the US. She holds a M.A. in International Development and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from the same institution.