Over the past year at IYF, as the issue of systemic racism became front page news and decolonizing development was debated across the international development community, IYF looked internally to determine whether we have been silently complicit. We found that we have, and we’re committed to doing something about it—starting under our own roof.

Based on staff responses from a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) survey we conducted in April 2020, IYF’s DEI Council drafted an action plan targeting four specific areas for improvement. Our efforts focus primarily on IYF’s internal culture, processes, and operations. However, we are sharing them publicly as part of IYF’s #4toSoar—four areas of focus where we will make intentional efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion internally. We believe these efforts are essential. Our #4toSoar commitments are explained below.

IYF will revise our internship policies to ensure equity of access for all young people.

  • We will eliminate exclusionary practices and barriers for young people from one or more of these prioritized identity groups: BIPOC, LGBTQ+, non-gender-binary, youth with disabilities, and adjudicated youth.
  • We will target outreach through channels with access to diverse populations of young people. For instance, we will cultivate partnerships with local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), community colleges, high schools, and workforce programs (including summer youth employment), to develop a talent pipeline of diverse candidates.
  • To increase paid internship opportunities, particularly for youth from low-income backgrounds, IYF will allocate funding to provide interns with compensation.

IYF will increase the percentage of BIPOC staff at all levels—including leadership—to better represent the communities we serve and drive impactful and innovative programming for young people.

  • Systemic racism and implicit bias impact internal operations including recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, and compensation. With this in mind, we will establish a routine diversity baseline within our U.S. office for all levels and departments and share publicly. Using this data, we will set, and hold ourselves accountable to, concrete diversity goals and milestones.
  • We will revisit our recruitment strategies to ensure 50 percent of new hires in our U.S. office will self-identify as People of Color, and of that group 25 percent will self-identify as Black. We have seen firsthand the benefits of a diverse team, and the strength that comes with diversity in experience, background, and perspective. Our recruitment policy and job advertisements will be revised to state that we strongly encourage applications from candidates that would bring a unique or underrepresented perspective to our existing team. Furthermore, IYF’s HR department will maintain a list of standard posting locations, inclusive of diversity job posting sites, which will be required for all new positions. When selecting recruitment firms, criteria for selection will include the percentage of BIPOC talent the firm has placed in the past year. At least one member of each interview panel will be BIPOC.
  • We will identify and remove barriers which tend to systemically exclude BIPOC talent. For example, IYF will no longer require advanced degrees or international development experience unless absolutely required for a specific position.
  • We will increase retention of BIPOC staff.
  • Creating an HBCU and MSI talent pipeline will become part of IYF’s wider efforts to increase staff diversity through intentional recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices across all levels of the organization. To that end, we will participate in HBCU and MSI job fairs—at least one per year. We will intentionally post vacancies on HBCU and MSI job portals and will become a featured employer on HBCU Career Center.

IYF will revise its professional development and internal training policies to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to the way we work.

  • We will develop a mandatory institutional DEI training plan built on the tenets of Awareness, Knowledge, Tools, Accountability, and Reinforcement.
  • Professional development opportunities provided to staff will have a strong component of DEI. • We will establish an institutional budget to develop and implement mandatory DEI onboarding activities and other learning activities.
  • We will develop and implement context-specific onboarding activities and trainings for both country offices and USA.
  • All new onboarding training must have a participant learning evaluation component to measure if participants acquired the intended knowledge and skills. Institutional indicators will be developed and implemented to measure how DEI training content contributes to the organization’s climate, culture, and procedures.

IYF will deepen diversity, equity, and inclusion when engaging key stakeholders in the communities we serve.

  • We will ensure that youth voices drive and advance our commitment to localization. This will include expanding the number of young people on IYF’s board and engaging them—along with our Young Professionals and other youth advisory groups—at critical stages of decision making.
  • We will reexamine our partner selection process and criteria to make sure partner organizations are representative of the communities served. Moreover, we will prioritize partnerships with youth-led and BIPOC-led community-based organizations (CBOs). To advance IYF’s DEI agenda, we’ll engage IYF’s young board members in consultation with other youth advisory groups.
  • Within the INGO community, we will push peers to address the lack of diversity by convening, elevating, and participating in conversations focused on DEI best practices. We’ll share successes, failures, and lessons learned during our journey to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at our organization. In the U.S., IYF will engage HBCUs and MSIs as partners during new business development efforts, product and curriculum development, and feedback regarding IYF platforms.
  • We will engage funders in DEI conversations and will use a gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) lens when writing proposals.
  • We will expand IYF’s procurement policy, enforcing specific requirements around engaging BIPOC and under-represented groups. IYF will join the 15 percent pledge, committing that at least 15 percent of IYF’s U.S. vendors will be Black-owned businesses.

Our #4toSoar commitment represents the start of an ongoing process in the development of diversity, equity, and inclusion at IYF. We are committed to making the necessary changes, both in the short-term and the long run. Throughout the year, watch for other #4toSoar content, and at the start of 2022 expect an update (and reflection) on our progress. Right now, #4toSoar is largely U.S.-focused, but the critical importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion does not have borders. We invite and encourage you to join us in elevating diversity, equity, and inclusion—it will be a long journey, but it all starts with taking unequivocal first steps within our own spheres of influence.

As with all deep, systemic transformation, it only works if we’re in it together.