Feminist Principles in Action: Insights from Traci Baird and EngenderHealth
Across our Executive Search and Consulting businesses, SRI Executive works with organisations across the global development sector. Over the last several years, more of our clients have been explicitly discussing their feminist values and how to bring them to life. We feel passionately about furthering gender equality and empowering women and individuals around the world who face oppression or marginalisation based on their identity. We are therefore incredibly excited to embark on an “In Conversation With…” series with leaders within the global development sector. Through these conversations, we will learn more about approaches to integrating feminist principles into leadership and operations within their organisations. Together, we will critically question how can live and work in line with feminist values.
Our first conversation was with Traci Baird, the CEO of EngenderHealth, a global organisation committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health rights and gender equality. Traci shared how she differentiates between being a feminist, being a feminist leader, and implementing feminist governance within an organisation. She herself identifies as a feminist and leads based on feminist principles which align naturally with EngenderHealth’s organisational values of reflection, inclusion, integrity, respect, and transformation. She distinguished her personal values and leadership style from principles of feminist governance and operating models, which include not just leaders and leadership teams but also organisational structure and processes like participatory decision-making, power sharing and transparency.
Traci also shared how she sees feminist principles reflected in the experiences of employees or prospective employees. She emphasised that trust, inclusivity, equity, respect, and belonging have a place throughout an employee’s experience from recruitment and hiring through retention. Some of the ways EngenderHealth has sought to increase inclusivity and equity through its recruitment processes has included shifting job descriptions to gender neutral pronouns, reassessing the required number of years of experience for a role, posting salaries, and not inquiring about salary history. These changes have been implemented so as not to favour any candidates over others and to create opportunities to break cycles of inequity candidates may have faced in the past.
As for the future, Traci is excited about how organisations are embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging - living the change they want to see in the world. She encouraged more people, including young people, who may not know where to begin to just find opportunities and take them. “It is easy to feel like you need a roadmap that gets you to the end…but this is a road that won’t end… You can make important progress by just getting started”.
At SRI Executive, we are finding opportunities internally and through Search and Consulting processes to reflect on individual and organisational values and priorities. We appreciate the openness organisations have had with us in sharing where they are in their own reflections and areas of exploration. We work together to figure out how to reflect these principles in recruitment, strategy, organisational design, governance, and leadership. We are looking forward to further conversation over the coming months!
If you would like to discuss further or participate in a future conversation, please contact Grace Kohn firstname.lastname@example.org