The Global Fund:
Taking a hard look at our gender policies

In conversation with Samantha Stokes-Baydur, Deputy Head of Human Resources

The Global Fund is a partnership designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. It mobilises more than US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in more than 100 countries.

We understand that the Global Fund undertook a gender assessment. Why was it done and can you tell us a bit about it?
The Global Fund is committed to a workplace that embraces diversity, thrives on discussion and is constantly learning. In 2018, we undertook a Gender Assessment to examine where we stand and how we can enhance the Global Fund from this perspective. It was important for us to evaluate whether any aspects of our human resources (HR) practices may adversely impact certain genders. HR led the initiative, and to ensure impartiality, an external firm conducted the analysis.

Over three-months, PwC undertook a systematic assessment of our HR policies, practices and processes and their application, as well as anonymized HR data. In parallel, they conducted a benchmarking exercise with other organisations with strong reputations of robust approaches to gender equality. PwC also ran focus groups to obtain feedback from employees, including the Staff Council, and gauge perceptions around gender equality at the Global Fund.

What did you learn?

We were pleased to learn that the organisation is gender-balanced, with a high degree of understanding among staff of the importance of gender equality. The Global Fund’s parenting policy was affirmed as among the most advanced compared to benchmarked organisations/best practice. We were concerned however that while there is no “glass ceiling” when promoting women, there is evidence of a “sticky floor” for women at one grade level who are promoted at a noticeably different rate than men. Promotions at other grades are considered gender neutral.

How have you used the results?

These results led us to establish some practical solutions, including monitoring and course-adjusting our recruitment and talent strategy, addressing unconscious bias and creating awareness of the language and terms we use. LinkedIn Learning, available to all staff, offers approximately 25 training sessions on unconscious bias.

In 2019 the Global Fund invested in the leadership development of some of its senior female staff from ‘implementor’ countries. The Global Fund also keeps a close eye on gender during succession planning, to ensure we have gender-balance in our next generation of leaders.

We see organisations increasingly adopting diversity and inclusion policies to address systems of power and privilege alongside and beyond gender. What is the Global Fund doing to bring about a more diverse and inclusive organisation?

With over 100 nationalities represented amongst our 750 staff and with people with varied professional backgrounds, diversity is at the core of our organisational culture.

In 2020, we’re looking forward to welcoming a dedicated staff member within HR who will be responsible for Diversity and Inclusion matters including developing a D&I strategy. The GH5050 results brought a realisation that our commitment to diversity is not very explicit on our website and we will review this content in the near future.

We see a diverse workforce as essential to shaping real-world solutions that improve health for people. The Global Fund is investing heavily in training for all of our leaders. We are strengthening leaders’ agility in adapting to the diversity of our staff, and their abilities in creating a psychologically safe environment, where all opinions are heard.