Black Lives Matter: Taking Action

International development worldwide has rightly come under criticism for its lack of diversity and a failure to make explicit commitments to change in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests.

Internews recognizes that we are no exception. We can and should do better: words are not enough. This is why we are committing to take immediate action.

Last week we emailed all 700+ employees working in Internews’ offices globally, in which we outline three steps we will undertake now to address the lack of diversity within our organization. The following is the essence of our message.

Let us be explicit. Black Lives Matter. The systemic racism that has plagued the United States since its founding is a reality that continues to marginalize Black Americans every single day. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have catalyzed movements in the United States and across the world. We are committed to fighting racial injustice everywhere we work. While we stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, it is not enough. While we stand in solidarity with all those who face discrimination worldwide on the basis on their skin color, their race, their beliefs, their gender, their sexuality, their physical abilities or their age, it is not enough.

A primary goal of Internews is the promotion and inclusion of marginalized voices everywhere, but we have to be honest: we have not done anywhere near a good enough job in ensuring those voices are represented at all levels of our organization. This needs to change. And it needs to change now.

Today we announce  an immediate investment in building a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. Internews will:

  • Recruit an external consultant or consultants to build our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices as an organisation. We are committed to change and recognize that we need help in identifying our weaknesses in these areas and in developing practical, actionable steps that we can take.
  • Establish an organization-wide DEI task force with a mandate to craft a DEI strategy. Our goal is to be as unequivocal in our statements, actions and position on racial justice as we are on other issues such as gender equality. We commit to begin implementing recommendations that emerge in this strategy within three months.
  • Take a leadership role in elevating the issue of racial inequality in the international development sector, though our actions, advocacy efforts and membership commitments. Our aim is to lead the way by being the most diverse and inclusive organisation in the media development and information sector within the next five years, in line with our values and our new strategic plan.

As the leaders of our US and European organizations, we are asking our boards to ensure that we are personally held accountable by making our DEI commitments one of the key indicators against which our performance is measured.

Jeanne Bourgault and Jodie Ginsberg

(Banner photo: Flyers on a wall at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC. Credit Patricia Chadwick/Internews)