Inclusive Africa, a newly launched systematic change organization in Kenya aims to improve inclusivity and drive diversity in Africa by working with development agencies, impact investors, and other organizations working in Africa to track and improve inclusivity.
Inclusive Africa, a brainchild of Pangea Accelerator, has a particular focus on intercultural and ethnic diversity to create opportunities for all and is now calling organizations working in Africa to look at their senior leadership teams and boards.
“Even though privilege can be uncomfortable to talk about, it is an important conversation to have,” the organization announced. “This reflective exercise is needed in the development sector to understand who they work with, for example; do you offer opportunities to qualified candidates not in your circle or do you prefer working with established partners, that is, the usual suspects? As Abhina Aher, associate director HIV/AIDS Alliance notes, “Without diversity in the workforce, programs themselves are unlikely to be inclusive.”
The organization is developing models, toolkits to drive system change for more inclusion in Africa where many institutions lack inclusion.
With the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, which sparked a global movement on racial justice during COVID-19, conversations on inclusion, many organizations have been challenged to look into how inclusive they are; but how is the international development sector responding to this? Has the sector been inclusive enough? If not, how can this be changed?
There have been a number of studies that show racial bias in the startup/tech scene in Africa, one such study revealed that only six per cent of startups in Kenya that raised over a million dollars were local founders, does the development sector working in Africa also have a similar unconscious bias when it comes to supporting African leaders and organizations?
Research already shows that just 3 percent of Charity CEOs are from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds indicating that perhaps, the development sector isn’t as inclusive.
This has also been echoed by Global health executive, Angela Bruce-Raeburn who has called on the aid sector to acknowledge that “diversity” isn’t as inclusive as it sounds.
According to Nasra A. Ismail, deputy director of the Somalia NGO Consortium, “We have many, many groups that are not represented in the space that we would like, ultimately, to shape the policies and the work that we do in the NGO sectors.”
Addressing these biases and gaps in the sectors requires developing and creating internal policies that ensure organizations are walking the talk. This means that they do not only advocate for inclusion in the external policies and in the regions they operate and advocate in but also in their internal policies.
One concrete way to achieve this is by developing awareness of implicit and explicit biases within talent and human resources departments in the aid sector.
The development sector should therefore understand that it is unacceptable for them to promote inclusion policies without having internal social inclusion policies. This also calls for organizations to reflect and be willing to have an uncomfortable conversation on how inclusive their processes are as one quote goes; “ if you think your organization is diverse because you hire black people in your Africa offices, think again.”