We are mission-driven. We care about people. We have a passion for making a difference in the world. This is the siren song of international development.
The global nature of our work, our highly competent and compassionate people, and our noble intentions make it easy to believe that as an industry, we are insulated from things like bias, exclusion, and discrimination. Mission-driven organizations, not just those in the international development sector, risk falling prey to the false belief that they do not need a deliberate corporate approach to diversity and inclusion (D&I) because they already embrace inclusion as a core value.
But what if we are not as inclusive as we think we are?
Inclusion Starts with “I”
Honest self-reflection is a first step to becoming more culturally competent and inclusive. To understand others, we need to begin by understanding our own background and the lens through which we interpret and experience the world, especially as development professionals. Not everyone sees the world through the same pair of glasses. Recognizing how the ones you wear impact your perspective and expectations of others is a necessary precondition for working effectively across difference.
Just like people, organizations can benefit from taking a closer look in the mirror and studying the image that is reflected back. Chemonics understood that the very important process of putting in place a corporate diversity initiative needed to begin with a process of critical self-reflection. Over the past year, we at Chemonics have shined the light on ourselves, a process that is not always easy or comfortable but one that was necessary to put us on the right path forward.