Shaping Our New Normal: An Unprecedented Opportunity to Reimagine a More Inclusive International Development Workplace

  • Date Posted: May 6, 2022
  • Authors: Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships
  • Organizations: Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships, The Canopy Lab
  • Document Types: Evidence or Research
  • Donor Type: US Agency for International Development

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Group of diverse people wearing masks

Is the development community at risk of losing hard-won diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) gains due to the pandemic? What DEI implications should Implementing Partners consider when designing their future working models? What are development professionals demanding in their post-pandemic careers and what are the DEI implications? These questions and more are tackled in this Study and associated Brief, “Shaping Our New Normal: An Unprecedented Opportunity to Reimagine a More Inclusive International Development Workplace,” in which we evaluate COVID-19’s impact on the workplace for international development. Check out the associated webinar recording that further explores these findings here.

COVID-19 has profoundly altered the workplace for international development professionals. From the transition to a virtual working environment to the halt in international travel, our industry has been navigating unprecedented changes to our working models, raising important questions about what our new normal will look like and how we can lay the foundation for a more empathetic, equitable, and inclusive sector.

In MSP’s earlier research, we observed that the international development sector was not immune to the uneven effects of the pandemic, and that COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting female market systems development (MSD professionals who were experiencing higher rates of burn-out and lower morale and career ambitions compared to their male counterparts. The findings suggested that hard-won gains in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts – at least gender-wise – were being compromised, posing significant risk of unraveling the diverse talent pipeline for MSD senior leaders.

This latest research—which includes input from 1,200 development professionals across humanitarian, WASH, agriculture, and economic growth fields representing all career levels, 23% minority voices, and 92 nationalities—explores professionals’ shifting perspectives on their careers in light of the seismic changes brought on by the pandemic. In this study, we explore professionals’ shifting perspectives on their careers in light of the seismic changes brought on by the pandemic. We also investigate to what extent Implementing Partners (IPs) are aligning with and responding to these shifts and consider what the implications are for the future diversity of the sector.