What is behind these changes at the Nobel Women’s Initiative?
The Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI), through the efforts of an incredible group of women across the organization and partnerships across the globe, has worked to achieve peace, justice and equality through feminist action. Since its founding 15 years ago, NWI has spotlighted and amplified the critical work and analysis of grassroots women’s organizations and movements around the world.
Unfortunately, in creating the organization, we did not explore structures beyond the hierarchical systems we had been exposed to which led to a growing gap between the core values carried out in our external work and that inside the office. We did not recognize the negative impact and resulting harm, particularly on staff. We should have acted sooner, and we failed to hear and appropriately respond to those who reached out and for all of that, we are profoundly sorry.
We hold ourselves accountable and we commit to repair.
If you have been harmed by the NWI we are committed to listening and taking action. Please contact us at: [email protected]
What events led to the commissioning of an independent review?
In July 2020, a group of five staff and two core consultants collectively resigned from Nobel Women’s Initiative, writing:
“Nobel Women’s Initiative, in our view, requires profound organizational reforms — based on transparency, equity, inclusivity and a commitment to uproot embedded patriarchal practices — in order to fully uphold its values.
“We made several attempts to raise these concerns and propose solutions with all levels of leadership, before coming to this final decision. Failure to prioritize and address our concerns in a transparent and inclusive manner, and attempts to devalue and diminish our voices, led to our collective resignation.”
In August 2020, 34 former employees, consultants, and interns of Nobel Women’s Initiative signed a letter of solidarity with those who resigned in July, writing:
“Over the years, many of us expressed concerns about our well-being or the well-being of our colleagues, in different ways and through different forums. Many of us felt we lacked a safe space or mechanism to fully share the issues we faced or witnessed. Some that did faced repercussions. While at the time some action was taken to address the concerns we shared, what was required was reform within Nobel Women’s Initiative to address systemic issues within the organization’s culture and structure.
“We regret that we did not speak out more and demand transformative change, as this brave group of individuals did before and after their resignations at Nobel Women’s Initiative. We stand with them and echo their call for deep organizational transformation at Nobel Women’s Initiative.”
What did the independent review find?
An independent review, undertaken by the Community Resource Exchange (CRE) at the request of NWI, identified five common “themes” in its investigation:
- Toxic, top-down, patriarchal culture
- Emotional, psychological, and racially-charged harm to staff
- Constant job / pay insecurity
- Weak infrastructure
- Inconsistent & conflicting board / leadership values
CRE offered 15 specific recommendations to support NWI’s realignment and clarification of purpose, the first being: “believe the women”.
What actions have been taken to address the review’s findings?
NWI recognizes that nothing short of transformational change must occur. We are implementing a new governance and leadership structure, with appointment of an Interim Board to lead the change process.
The members of the Interim Board were selected, not just because they are leaders in peace, justice, equality and organizational change, but because they are recognized as agents of change.
The Interim Board will work as an independent governing body and has made repair their first priority. Findings and recommendations contained in the external report will guide the Interim Board’s work. The establishment of a new governance model that re-centres the power base of the organization in its people, bringing onboard new leadership, and beginning to chart a new feminist vision, policies and systems for the organization top their agenda.
What role will the Laureates be playing in the transformation?
The Laureates have appointed the Interim Board and have pledged their ongoing support to the organization, its values, and the commitment for the need to transform NWI. The Interim Board will lead the transformational change process and organizational decision-making will reside with them. The Laureates commit to their own collective reflecting, learning and reimagining of the NWI and their role as Laureates within it.
How can I find out more about some of the concepts outlined in the report?
Here are some useful links to learn more:
What is White Supremacy Culture
White Supremacy Culture Characteristics
What can I do if I experienced harm?
We are committed to listening to your experiences and taking action. Please contact us at [email protected]