Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CIFF

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CIFF

At CIFF, we have embarked on a mission to comprehensively embed diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), including gender and racial equity, in our work and operations. All DEI issues require both a distinct and an intersectional approach.

Since 2016, we have been working to ensure strategy and programme management are driven by teams based in the locations where we grant the most. We have also made efforts to address gender equity and transformation across our staffing and grantmaking. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the expansion of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, re-emerging conversations about racial equity, decolonizing aid and shifting power to local communities rightly instigated a reckoning within our sector. They also accelerated a process of self-reflection at CIFF about what we need to do more of and what we need to do differently.

We are acutely aware of the development sector’s deep roots in colonialism and the power imbalances inherent in philanthropy. Given the power and privilege we hold as a funder, we have initiated a comprehensive process that centres on CIFF becoming an organisation that fully embraces diversity, equity and inclusion and uses our grant-making to help alleviate the structural inequalities that allow poverty and hunger, gender, racial and all other forms of discrimination, child exploitation as well as climate destruction to persist. This is not just the right thing to do, but it will also make our programmes more relevant, impactful and sustainable for the individuals and communities we work with.

We are under no illusion that this work is easy. It is complex and it will take time to achieve everything we aspire to. We recognise that we will make mistakes, but we want to learn and we want to get it right.

Our approach

Our vision for long-term change is grounded in an intentional and comprehensive approach that anchors transformation within CIFF as an organisation, as well as across our grant-making and partnerships. Our strategy focuses on three core pillars:

1. Engagement with our grantee partners and the communities we work with – we are starting to embed an explicit equity lens within our grant-making strategies and programmes to ensure we better reach and support groups and communities suffering from multiple levels of marginalisation. Specifically, we have developed an equity toolkit to guide CIFF staff on embedding equity-focused approaches and metrics into investment strategies and programmes. The toolkit helps identify the most appropriate ways to reach the most-in-need individuals and communities; provides guidance on tracking equity outcomes linked to agency, resources, structures and norms; and outlines best practice for disaggregated data collection, equitable budgeting and participatory programme design. We are also supporting our partners to enhance their existing organisational capacities on DEI and build spaces for mutual learning.

2. Engagement with other funders and the wider sector – we are keen to learn from experts in the field and are exploring ways in which we can contribute to catalysing change in the sector, including by supporting the establishment of philanthropic communities of practice to advance equity-centred grant-making practices across the Development and Climate sectors.

3. Engagement with our staff – we are on a path to transforming our organisational culture, values, behaviours, processes and systems to embrace and embed diversity, equity and inclusion across the organisation. Milestones on this path include the review and ongoing monitoring of our people policies and processes, including related to hiring, reward and promotion; the launch of an internal DEI knowledge and resource hub for our leadership and staff; the completion of a 15-month learning journey hosted by Population Works Africa seeking to unpack principles and practices of solidarity-centred grant-making rooted in anti-racism, decolonisation and intersectionality, and a complementary learning journey for our Executive Team, focused on their role in ensuring an inclusive culture where all staff feel able to bring their whole selves to work and are treated with dignity and respect.

Our progress & learnings

As we move forward with the implementation of our DEI vision and approach, we are keen to learn from our peers on what works as well as share our progress and learnings. For instance, the results of the equity toolkit rollout mentioned above will be made accessible to all our partners. Through this transparency, we hope to evaluate our actions and hold ourselves accountable to achieving our vision.