INTRO: Gilded Cages

The pinnacle of any career in the International Development field is to work in one of the major international organizations. You are lauded as having “arrived.” You’ve been recognized, top of your field, you are deserving of respect and you are expected to be remunerated well. You’ve been chosen to join a golden few that have the moral standing to dictate to Heads of States and influence CEOs.


What happens when you simply represent boxes to tick for Management’s staged diversity exercise?

Inevitably, that job offer can come with some dependency, especially if you need a visa that is tied to your employment. After years of job insecurity, you are often faced with situations of conflict: do you “speak power to truth and call out that injustice” or do you “secure your pay cheque” and for others “safeguard your work visa for your family to reside where they now call home?”

Such is the choice many of us face when suffering through misogyny, racism, colonial behavior, bullying and globalized prejudice. We’ve been sexually harassed, inappropriately touched and bullied; we’ve been demoted, passed over for promotions and unfairly fired; our careers have been threatened and our peace of mind systematically destroyed. Few of us are recruited. When we are, it’s based on higher standards and with greater scrutiny than our white and/or male counterparts, and we are paid far less. If you challenge the system? Most of us are not retained. Consequently, the wrong people are sitting at the table. It’s a shocking unexpected experience because of the noble cause we believe we are joining.

Politics corrupts real decision making and it’s the most vulnerable populations that suffer by stalled development policy.


This isn’t anything new. Ten years ago, the Government Accountability Project published a report that found that a race ceiling exists at the World Bank and the Bank’s legal system fails to address racial discrimination adequately: “Racial Discrimination at the World Bank”.

So what has changed?

Nothing? Everything? Society? Nations? Expectations?

International development can never succeed without justice for those who are disadvantaged by a failed system.


This is us demanding change. This is us requiring that you DO better! This is us speaking truth to power.

SOME SOURCES Government Accountability Project “Racial Discrimination at the World Bank” Retrieved October 23, 2018.

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