Embodying Change: Cultivating Caring and Compassionate Organisations

Melissa talks with Julia Sánchez, Secretary General of ActionAid International. The conversation was part of an ICVA-CHS Alliance joint project engaging aid leaders on the issues of staff well-being and supportive organisational culture.

Show Notes

Melissa talks with Julia Sánchez, Secretary General of ActionAid International. The conversation was part of an ICVA-CHS Alliance joint project engaging aid leaders on the issues of staff well-being and supportive organisational culture. 

ActionAid’s ten principles of feminist leadership include elements that explicitly link to staff well-being, like self awareness, self-care and caring for others. They also include ingredients for a supportive organisational culture like: dismantling bias, inclusion, sharing power and using it responsibly and transparently, accountable collaboration, courage (learning from mistakes rather than fearing failure), respectful feedback and zero tolerance for discrimination and abuse of power in the workplace.

In their conversation Melissa and Ms. Sánchez cover:
  • Reflections on how important it is to know our values, and how hard it can be to apply them in our daily work
  • Why we seem particularly stressed in this sector 
  • The importance of leaders modelling healthy relationships to the work
  • Lessons learned on collaborative management (vs. micromanagement) for building trust and giving space to learn 
  • An open question about how we “recharge” when we can’t travel and see people in person
Ms. Sánchez is a development practitioner, feminist and environmentalist who has been promoting equity and sustainable development for more than 25 years. Born in Peru, Julia grew up in Latin and North America. A global citizen, she is tri-lingual and has lived and worked in numerous countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Early in her career, Julia worked with a Canadian INGO for many years, first in Guatemala, then in Canada and finally as regional director for Asia based in Nepal. From 2009 to 2011, she was then national campaign coordinator with the global secretariat of the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA) based out of Delhi. She was appointed as president-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) in 2011, a position she held until 2018. Subsequently, she ran as a federal candidate for the Canadian parliament in 2019 and completed a research contract with the largest union in Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), on privatisation of municipal services. Julia has served on numerous Canadian and international boards and advisory bodies, including as co-chair of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) from 2016 to 2018. She served as the chair of CIVICUS and was previously treasurer from 2016 to 2019. Julia has designed and managed programs in areas such as humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, governance, democratic development, community-based economic development, international volunteering and, more recently, campaigning on climate change. She is an economist and political scientist, with a BA in Economics and Political Science and an MA in Economics, both from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  

To learn more, check out:

-       ActionAid’s Ten Principles of Feminist Leadership: https://actionaid.org/feminist-leadership 
-       The CHS Alliance Initiative to Cultivate Caring Compassionate Aid Organizations: https://www.chsalliance.org/get-support/article/cultivating-caring-compassionate-aid-organisations/
-       The forthcoming ICVA-CHS Alliance joint report, “Leading well: Aid leader perspectives on staff well-being and organisational culture”

***We would like to give a special thanks to the Initiative’s supporters: the CHS Alliance members, the Government of Luxembourg, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (DFCO) and the Netherlands. Thanks to ICVA for collaborating in this joint project engaging leaders. And much gratitude to Ziada Abeid for editing the show.***

What is Embodying Change: Cultivating Caring and Compassionate Organisations?

A podcast for people who’ve dedicated their careers to helping others – but eventually realise they need help, too. Conversations about promoting care and compassion in humanitarian and development settings and sharing what we are learning about promoting and supporting aid worker well-being and organisational culture.