Women Deliver racism investigation verdict described as a 'slap in the face'

The results of an investigation into allegations of racism and harassment at one of the world’s most high profile women’s rights organisations has been described as a “slap in the face” to those who complained.

Investigators concluded this week that no single person was responsible for the “challenges” at the group, Women Deliver, which had undergone a period of rapid growth “during which its policies and practices lagged behind”. The report added the workplace culture had been “too demanding, urgent, and high-pressure”.

Women Deliver’s CEO, Katja Iversen, has resigned.

The investigation was launched in June following reports of racism and discrimination within the organisation from former and current employees who complained the group had a “‘white saviour’ complex”. A letter of solidarity was signed by 118 Women Deliver young leaders from around the world.

Former staffer Brittany Tatum, whose allegations were among those which sparked the inquiry, tweeted: “This all reads to me like Women Deliver doesn’t really know what accountability is, and if they do, the last thing they care about is taking responsibility for their impact.

“This statement, the report from the lawyers, and everything in between is a slap in the face to all of the unpaid labor I know junior and mid-level staff have been doing at Women Deliver since Katja took her leave of absence.”

Women Deliver for Change, a group described as being in solidarity with former and current staff, tweeted: “After months of working with @WomenDeliver leadership and pouring our energy into transformation efforts, we’re expressing our outrage and dismay at the WD Board’s failure to adequately address testimonies of current and former staff.”

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Women Deliver is one of three women’s rights organisation troubled by allegations of racism and harassment in recent months.

The International Women’s Health Coalition, whose president Françoise Girard resigned earlier this month resigned over the organisation’s handling of the review, and the Nobel Women’s Initiative have both announced reviews of their working practices.

A statement from the board of Women Deliver said it “deeply and sincerely apologises to current and former employees, young leaders and alumni, and the advocates and organisations with which it partners for harm and pain caused”.


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