A worldwide call for racial justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd has galvanized organizations, including MEDA, to closely examine processes and practices that could be perpetuating racism and racist systems. MEDA is committed to becoming a more inclusive and actively anti-racist organization.
As a result of MEDA’s self-reflection, the organization created its Gender Equality, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (GDEI) committee, which was first introduced in late October 2020. The GDEI Committee is made up of diverse MEDA staff members who identify with or seek to represent diverse groups. The Committee connects MEDA staff, the People & Culture division, and the Executive Leadership Team to foster a culture and atmosphere of mutual respect, inclusion, and celebration of diversity within the MEDA Community. The GDEI Committee reviews and provides input into MEDA’s policies, practices and procedures and facilitates GDEI activities to improve the workplace experience of everyone at the organization.
Since the GDEI committee has launched, it has:
- Created a GDEI SharePoint page to share resources internally as well as GDEI Committee progress and updates.
- Given suggestions for best practices and highlighted areas of concern/consideration from a GDEI lens on the impacts of a flexible work policy.
- Provided training in MEDA’s learning portal, including the implementation of “Introduction to Unconscious Bias” and “Address your Unconscious Bias,” which became a mandatory requirement for all new North American staff, starting February 2021.
Most notably, the GDEI committee facilitated MEDA to become a signatory of Cooperation Canada’s Anti-Racism Framework, a sector-wide initiative to combat racism in the international development sector. MEDA is participating in this Framework as part of its commitment to achieving North-South equilibrium and its strategic plan, Towards An Equal World. Becoming a signatory to the Framework enables MEDA to collaborate with other NGOs throughout this process, to learn from each other and share resources, and holds us all (as employees in the international development sphere) accountable for recognizing and eliminating the systems in our work that perpetuate racism.
The Committee presented recommendations to MEDA’s leadership team, communicated the initiative to staff, and is conducting an internal survey. This year, the Committee will use the Framework’s survey results and recommendations to determine how to implement anti-racism practices within MEDA.
Feedback from current members of the GDEI Committee has been positive. Below are some reflections from MEDA employees/GDEI committee members:
“It’s been a great opportunity for me to be part of the GDEI and I always look forward to our regular and/or impromptu meetings to touch base and share our thoughts on important concerns. Coming from the minority – an Asian, a woman and from the field office, I felt that my thoughts and ideas are heard and valued.”– Catherine Sobrevega, Country Project Director, Philippines
“I have been with MEDA for about eleven years and I think I was a first fresh immigrant to Canada when I just joined it. For me, MEDA was always welcoming and supportive. The MEDA team made my integration to the Canadian life truly enjoyable! I am happy that now through my participation in the GDEI committee I can further strengthen inclusion and diversity in MEDA and contribute to the equality of the whole Canadian development industry.” – Kamran Abdullayev, Associate Director, MEDA
“MEDA became my first International Economic Development organization and very quickly I realized the focus and emphasis they placed on inclusion and diversity within their employees. At no point as a South Asian Muslim did, I feel like an outsider. And now being part of the GDEI committee, I get the opportunity every single day to continue MEDA’s message and push for more inclusion and diversity at MEDA.”– Mujtaba Ali, Environment & Climate Change specialist, MEDA
MEDA is grateful for the important work this Gender Equality, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee is doing. There is a lot of work still to be done as we work towards accessibility and inclusion for all, but the progress made within its first year is foundational and a great step in the right direction.