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Reducing power asymmetries in the social sector: an IDinsight organizational priority

An overview of IDinsight's perspective on reducing power asymmetries in our sector.

IDinsight’s vision is to improve millions of lives by transforming how the social sector innovates, learns, and improves. We do this primarily through applying data and evidence skills to support decisions made by governments, NGOs, and funders. Through this work, we shape, are shaped by, and are part of the global development sector.

As actors in this larger system, we are keenly aware that it is a system characterized by historic and present power asymmetries. Specifically, we are one of many organizations – international NGOs – that have grown out of a deeply entrenched power structure in which resources and agency are concentrated among people from high-income countries, mostly White. Decision-makers are often far removed from the people being served and the realities they face. Actions within these organizations are often based on biased or outdated assumptions, paternalism, and an attachment to the status quo.

The problem of power asymmetry in the work we do has many dimensions, touching not only who we are, but how we receive funding, how we design and implement our projects, and who benefits from the knowledge generated. This document highlights only our understanding of how our internal organization – our people, policies, and processes – affects our ability to be a full part of the solution to bring about equality in “global development.” In future statements, we will address other questions related to the way we do our work.

To seek more balanced power structures in the social sector, IDinsight commits to diversity in our team, equity in our policies, and inclusion in our practices as core aspects of our organization’s identity. We are committed to continual growth and learning in an attempt to understand our position and acknowledge the complexity of the challenges we face. We understand that if we take a simplistic approach to be an inclusive organization, starting and ending with demographic quotas or statements about being “locally grounded” that aren’t backed up, we will fall short. We understand that internal power hierarchies are present in every group of people. There are intersectional and systemic disadvantages based on race, caste, class, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We are committed to a principled global approach to uphold every person’s worth and dignity while striving for a more equitable society.

We are building a diverse team at all levels in the organization, including both individuals living in or originating from the countries in which we work and individuals who bring relevant outside experience. We seek to have equitable policies and systems, to foster fairness in remuneration as well as promotion opportunities and criteria. We create opportunities to provide input, recognizing context-specific differences in communication modes; we are listening to each team member’s feedback.

Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion reflects our understanding of the need for the sector to abandon unhealthy practices of the past. We wish to be part of a new generation of international NGOs who are honest about this history and transparent about our role in the present. Our commitment is also aligned with the impact of our work. We seek a workforce that is inclusive of a variety of perspectives that will help us refine and improve our methods and relationships, and strengthen the services we provide our clients and their communities or constituencies.

We understand that our personal knowledge is limited and that we unintentionally bring personal preconceptions to our work. We consistently work to minimize these blind spots and biases, and we openly share what we are learning internally and with others in the social sector.

The vision for the IDinsight team

IDinsight will have greater representation from the populations with whom we work and clients we serve

IDinsight will have greater representation from the countries in which we work.

Across all countries in which we recruit, we will seek greater representation from historically excluded communities.

IDinsight will foster an inclusive work culture that empowers a diverse team to do their best work.