Staff Association Diversity Working Group

This brief note summarizes the status of racial diversity in the World Bank Group in 2005, and proposes a four point Action Plan for 2006.

I. Status of Racial Discrimination in the WB/IMF

The status of racial discrimination in the Bank is very bad. It is more subtle and sophisticated

Strong feeling of Marginalization / lack of empowerment of staff of African descent (SSA/CR/African-American). The situation seems to be worse in the Africa region.

The above assessment is the result of several independent quantitative and scientific studies/surveys carried out over several years (1979 Africa Group study, 1992 Staff Association Study, 1997 CTR audit, 2000 DEC study, 2003 Inclusion study)

A few illustrative Facts very difficult to comprehend:

►In 2005, out of 47 incoming YPs, only 1 SSA (from Sudan), although Africa is considered the Bank # 1 priority in the years ahead.  In all YP cohorts, most YPs of African descent are at career bottom of their YP groups 2-3 decades later.

►In 2005, institutional targets for staff of African descent (SSA/CR/African-American) have not been achieved (8.5% in May 2005 far from the 10% goal). Only 18.7% of VPUs (i.e. 6 out of 32 VPUs meet the 10% institutional target set since 1996. They are AFR, IAD, CTR, HRS, LEG, MIG.

►In 2005, it is not unusual to see Bank staff of African descent, with more than 30 years of Bank experience in multiple regions, with excellent OPE performance, former YP,  graduate of US Ivy League school, with Ph.Ds, on the dawn of their career as “Senior something”.  This is also true for many Bank staff of African descent with 30-35 years of experience including pre-Bank experience, with graduate degrees from best US and European schools.

►In 2005, it is not unusual to see many Bank staff of African descent with 20-25 years of Bank experience, excellent OPEs, all academic credentials (Ph.Ds, MBAs), with proven technical, managerial and field experience, still struggling as “Senior something”,  at the same position for many years with bleak prospects for horizontal or vertical mobility; and being continuously requested to prove themselves.

►In 2005, it is not unusual to see many women/consultants staff of SSA, graduates of US Ivy league schools in critical areas in demand in the Bank still struggling for STC positions after many years in the Bank (15 years for some).

►The situation of ACS staff of African descent (many with Masters) is worse.

►Despite their experience and background, many blacks are always in back seat positions in various ways, and African-Americans are nowhere to be found in many places.

II. Progress Achieved over the last 10 years. Tremendous progress but Unfinished agenda

Declaration of Zero Tolerance Policy in May 1998, against a Pre-Wolfensohn era of taboo and widespread denial.

Institutionalization of Diversity Compact at the Senior Management level (VPs)

Number of Staff of African descent (SSA/CR/African-American) increased from 6.6% at the end of 1997 to 8.5% in May 2005; but well under the 10% institutional target
Representation at senior management level (VP) increased from 1 in 1998 to 7 in 2005, but it still remains to be desired.

III. Major Issues and Challenges Ahead.

Prevailing attitudes, behaviors, and management culture prevent the majority of Staff of African descent (SSA/CR/African-American) from their full potential and contribution to the development of the poorest and most challenging continent in the World.

Perception of institutional dilution of racial discrimination issue into gender, disability, sexual orientation.
Need for a focal point on racial equality.  The previous Senior Advisor for Racial Equality (SARE) to the President examined more than 450 cases of racial discrimination during his tenure. This very successful experience justifies the need to restore the SARE’s office.

Lack of Mobility, and Glass ceilings for Africans are worse for Africans. Concentration of Blacks to Africa region at lower levels and in precarious positions for long term (indefinite STC/ETC);

Lack of Enforcement of institutional diversity compact below senior management (VP level)

Lack of reliable mechanisms to tract and sanction perpetrators of racial discrimination (compared to sexual harassment);

Low inflow of Staff of African descent (SSA/CR/African-American), and  lack of opportunities particularly for Field staff and Black women

Highest levels of redundancy usually among blacks and Need Tracking of race in institution data base

Need Wide dissemination of 2003 Study on Inclusion and Possible town hall meeting on racial diversity.

IV. Agenda of Actions with the Staff Association

Work closely with Senior Management to monitor implementation of existing Diversity Compacts not only at the level of VPs but also at hiring management levels (Sector Directors, Country Directors, and Sector managers).

Make Diversity Compacts public at all levels

Enforce Diversity Compacts with rewards and adequate mechanism to sanction perpetrators of racial discrimination, as is the case for sexual harassment.

Commission an independent study to be carried out by a non-black consultant to summarize necessary measures needed to accompany Implementation of Diversity Compacts based on the different studies carried out in the last decade.

BACKROUND

I. Status of Racial Discrimination in the World Bank Group

Based on several independent quantitative and scientific studies/surveys carried out by non-Africans over several years1 it is unambiguous that racial discrimination in the World Bank Group is well and alive.  It is, however, more subtle and sophisticated.

Overall:

The status of racial discrimination in the Bank is very bad.

There is strong feeling of Marginalization of staff from African origin in the World Bank Group. For a vast majority of SSA-origin staff, including those below Director level, the challenges facing them are as formidable as ever. This is in part due to the fact that the changes of mindsets, attitudes, behaviors, values and culture take a long time and require a lot of patience.  Given the history of slavery, colonization, and post colonization, racial prejudice and discrimination in a sophisticated institution are more subtle, entrenched, embedded, and systemic and manifested in a variety of ways.  Specially hard to change are the subtle and invisible aspects of prejudice and discrimination communicated through body languages in informal settings, and in the Human Resources and management systems and procedures (short listings processes, sector boards, merit reviews, salary settings, choice of assignments).

On the basis of feedback from staff and management teams, research and diagnosis of systemic issues such as bias in grade, pay, assignment, redundancy, promotion and treatment, there is clearly a bias against blacks in the World bank Group. The bias in pay and grade has been substantiated and corroboted  by an independent  study carried out in the  World Bank research Group by non-SSA origin staff2 and indicate significant gaps in pay between SSA-origin staff and their comparable peers for reasons that are still unexplained.

A few numbers illustrate the bias against blacks: in 2005, out of 47 incoming YPs, a single SSA from North Sudan. Institutional targets for Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American)  have not been met (8.5 in May 2005 far from the 10% goal).  Representation at the VP level still remains to be desired.

II. Progress Achieved over the last 10 years. Tremendous progress but Unfinished agenda

Declaration of Zero Tolerance Policy in May 1998, against a Pre-Wolfensohn era of taboo.

Institutionalization of Diversity Compact at the Senior Management level (VPs)

Number of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) increased from 6.6 at the end of 1997 to 8.5 in May 2005.

Representation at senior management level (VP) for Staff of African Descent increased from 1 in 1998 to 7  in 2005.  In the Africa region, it is only recently that a black has been appointed Sector Director. In the same region, there are only 3 black Country Directors out of 16. Prior to the appointment of the present Africa region VP, there was not a single HL black in the RVP front office.

III. Major Issues and Challenges Ahead

Although staff issues highlighted by HR and the Staff Association are fully relevant to Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American), the situation of black staff is worse in a variety of ways and they particularly face issues pertaining to their race.  These issues can be summarized as below:

Prevailing attitudes, behaviors, and management culture continue to prevent the majority of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) from their full participation and potential in the World Bank Group.

Racial equality is a Business Case for the World Bank, as the premier international development organization.  It is not as an entitlement to Blacks. Staffs of African descent are not seeking entitlement for blacks. The objective is to treat qualified and experience blacks on a level playing field. As a premier international organization, the Bank Group should preserve its integrity in fairness, objectivity, and equal opportunity for all staff irrespective of race, nationality and gender. It is simply a matter of business as present policies (discrimination and lack of mobility of SSA for example) deprive SSA-origin staff from fulfilling their career potential and deprive Africa from its best talents who could easily help gain access to global experience needed to accelerate poverty reduction.

The business rationale of  racial equality in the World Bank is justified by the need:

(i) for the Bank to demonstrate to its client countries, and particularly to African countries, the Bank’s unique credentials for understanding poverty and economic development with the highest level of professional knowledge from all nations, cultures, and races; and the Bank’ unmatched ability to doing business efficiently in a global environment with the best experts including blacks; as knowledge and competence is no longer a monopoly of some.

(ii) Consistency with the articles of agreement which empower the President to pay particular attention to the importance of recruiting personnel on as wide a geographical basis as possible.  President Wolfowitz clear indication of his preference for a staff from a developing country to replace Shengman Zang as managing Director is an illustration of this importance ;

(iii) creating added value for the institution and its clients by developing the capacity of all staffs (including blacks) and fully realizing the potential synergies of a global pool of resources;

(iv) maintaining consistency with the “challenge of inclusion” by adhering to the principles of racial equality and harmony and by protecting the vision for global development without racial or ethnic conflict.

Dilution of Racial discrimination issue into gender, disability, sexual orientation, education, etc…

Given the unfinished agenda, Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) express concern about the potential dilution arising from a less than targeted approach to diversity that includes gender, disability, sexual orientation, education, etc…While welcoming the more inclusive approach to diversity, Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) feel a risk that particular and legitimate causes are being pushed to the fringes. Because the issue of racial discrimination is so unique and subtle, it requires special focus, and without this focus the gains made would be washed out.

Need for a focal point on racial equality.

In light of the unmet expectations covering the vast majority of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American), and in view of the enormous value added services of the SARE (Senior Advisor to the President on Racial Equality) in terms of corporate image, trust, credibility, conflict resolution, guidance and counsel, support to management teams and HR, sharing of best practices, the office of the SARE should be reestablished.

Concentration of Blacks to Africa region at lower levels; Lack of Mobility, and Glass ceilings

The majority of blacks (186 in April 2005) at HQ level GF and plus work in the Africa region.  Those who work in the Caribbean region are typically assigned in the Caribbean.  Lack of mobility of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) prevents Africa and the CR regions from benefiting from the full flow of state of the art knowledge and diverse country experience which access to global opportunities provide.

Lack of Enforcement of institutional diversity compact below senior management

The diversity compacts as performance contacts provide quantitative targets for improving staff composition and qualitative actions to strengthen recruitment, career development, work environment and managerial accountability. Effectiveness of diversity compacts should be enhances if signed not only by the entire VPU management teams, but also at the level of sector directors, country directors, sector managers and as an explicit component of managers performance evaluations to ensure accountability of managers at the lowest levels.

Lack of reliable mechanisms to tract and sanction perpetrators of racial discrimination;

There is a strong feeling among staff of African descent (SSA/CR/ African American) that perpetrators of racial discrimination can get away with it unpunishly.  There is a need for a reliable mechanism to ensure personal ad corporate accountability for credible investigation of claims of racial discrimination and appropriate punishment when racial discrimination is found to have taken place. Sanctions against perpetrators should also be widely published as is the case for Sexual Harassment.

Low inflow of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/ African American) f, and  lack opportunities particularly for Field staff and Black women

Although there is a huge pool of qualified Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) consultants who have been working (some for abut 15 years) as Short term consultants, the inflow of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) into the institution is extremely low as evidenced by the number of African YPs in 2005. While the Short term consultancy life span of staff of non African origin is very short and they move vertically and horizontally quickly in the institution. This is not the case of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American)-origin staff.

The low inflow of staff of African descent compounded with accelerated departure of many senior black staff from many regions (many voluntary early retirements as a result of the disillusionment of many staff of African descent) is a matter of serious concern.

Staffs of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) origin in the field offices repeatedly express concern about their general treatment, discrimination, bias in pay and recognition. Representation of black women is also a matter of serious concern.

Highest levels of redundancy usually among blacks

Staffs of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) with solid performance records and relevant professional and technical skills are often declared redundant at a significantly higher rate at all levels.  There is serious concern among staff of Staff of African Descent (SSA/CR/African American) that they would be first on the line, should there be restructuring and redundancies in the months ahead, in the light of past experiences.

Need Tracking of race in institutional data base.

It is the opinion of staff of African descent that best practices in the US private sector could be successfully implemented in the World Bank group to better tack race data.  This could be done by simply requesting on voluntary basis information on race from all staffs. This is a practice in commercial banking / real estate lending in the US to ensure equal lending opportunities to all.

Need to disseminate Study on Inclusion;

Following the posting of the 2003 Inclusion report on the web, there is a need for the new President to raise awareness on diversity and inclusion through presentation and discussion of the study in a town hall meeting.

Considering appointment of a Black Ombudsman in the CRS and provision of adequate ombudsman services to Field Office staff  would significantly contribute in alleviating concerns expressed by many Staff of African descent (SSA/CR/African American) origin staff in Field Offices.

IV. Conclusion:

Strong feeling of marginalization among staff of African descent in the institution and lack of empowerment, even in the Africa region.  It is only since a few months that an African has been appointed Sector Director in the Africa region.  It is only since a few months that  Africans are part of the front office of the Africa region VP (in the Office of the Africa Chief Economist Office, in the Regional Integration department).

Looking forward to a fresh start under President Wolfowitz, building on his long public record and concrete development experience.

Hope to see Issues highlighted here at the Heart of President Wolfowitz ‘s Agenda

Full availability of Staff Association and Staff of African descent (SSA/CR/African American) staff to collaborate with President Wolfowitz to accelerate poverty reduction in Africa.

Notes

(a) Africa Study Group, “ The Africans in the Bank staff” 1979

(b) Dewey Ballantine Reports ” An Analysis of Allegations of Discrimination within the CTR Vice-Presidency” , 1997,report commissioned by CTR (Controller) © Staff Association’s African Issues Working Group report, 1992

(d) Office of Diversity Programs: Enhancing Inclusion at the World bank Group: Diagnosis and Solutions, December 2003

(e) DEC: Difference in Pay and Grade at the World Bank, 2000/01


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