Sometimes Photos Can Help Us See What is Missing

by | Jul 8, 2020 | Change, ICT4D |

Recently I read through Yoti’s social purpose report. I encourage you to do the same. One of the simple things it does is take photos of board members of 3 of its key boards. In context of a discussion about diversity, this is a transparent act and an uncomfortable one.

These photos were not hidden before – they were publicly available on their website. However, the act of putting them together in a report talking about diversity brought them to life. The report goes through a series of metrics and discussions. And as the report states, they have some work to do in the diversity of their boards. Making the change is not easy.

Thinking about who makes the decisions is an often undervalued question. Decisions have value judgements baked in. Our worldview, our experience of the world impacts how we view and make decisions.

In humanitarian and development organisations, it would be interesting to do a report publishing the photos and locations of decision makers for projects and programmes. Where is the person located who makes decisions about the project in Sierra Leone? How many of them are in the ‘global north’ and how many are actually in the communities in Sierra Leone that the project seeks to serve?

Or when we are making decisions about data collection tools or biometrics or artificial intelligence – where are the decision makers located? What is their ethnicity? Their gender? Their disability? How diverse is our group?

In Yoti’s case, I hope they use their report as a baseline or line in the sand. And that for years to come they measure their progress. In their case, I’m fairly confident progress will be made.

In the NGO world, we still need a baseline. My suspicion is that we are not very diverse geographically, but have some ethnic diversity. I am quite certain our gender and disability diversity can improve. But I have no report to point to.

Maybe that’s the first step.

Photo by Dan Gold

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