We were delighted to sponsor a new award at the Career Development Roundtable Conference in Dublin, in December 2017. The CDR brings together International Organizations across the multi-lateral sector, in particular from the United Nations System, the European Union, International Financial Institutions, as well as the national public sector, academia and private institutions.
The Career Development Roundtable Employee Engagement Award was to recognise an organisation who demonstrated an innovative approach to improving their employee engagement. We were delighted with the standard of entries from organisations including Unicef, UNDP, IAEA, UN Women and Revenue Commissioners, UNRWA, World Bank and UNDP.
The winning entry was EMERGE – Programme for Emerging Women Leaders, a joint effort of 28 staff members from 11 UN entities: ILO · ITU · OCHA · OHCHR · UNAIDS · UNHCR · UNICEF · UNOG · UNSSC · WHO · WIPO
Here is their story*….
Engagement of staff across the UN system is a key requirement for a UN that is equipped to deliver on the goals of the Agenda 2030. The Geneva Learning Network (GLN) is an inter-agency forum that has been active since 2005 – connecting staff development professionals in Geneva and beyond. Inspired by their strong professional relationships, the co-chairs challenged the group to move beyond networking and put their expertise into practice with an inter-agency talent management initiative.
What were your goals?
Motivated by the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, members of the network co-created EMERGE – Programme for Emerging Women Leaders. The programme aims to identify, develop and engage a cadre of high-potential mid-level women leaders that are moving beyond silos and working together as the next generation of leadership for the UN system. This initiative is a win-win-win: for participants, for staff driving the implementation, and for the UN system as a whole.
What did you do and how did you do it?
GLN members from 11 UN Organizations worked together to design, resource, and implement the programme. While complementary to the learning offers of their organizations, their work was voluntary and in addition to the normal workload. All colleagues involved contributed to the programme based on their expertise and passion. The group found creative ways to work smart and efficiently, using the different agencies’ resources to tackle the various administrative, developmental and delivery tasks.
What was the outcome?
The EMERGE programme has shown what happens when employees’ values are aligned with organizational objectives. Commitment and belief in inter-agency collaboration and gender equality resulted in a high level of engagement by 33 participants and 28 organizers from 11 entities – over a sustained period of 18 months. In the words of a participant: “I feel empowered and I have confidence that by the end of the programme I will be ready to assume greater responsibilities.”
How did you measure success?
In the initial evaluation, participants talked about a transformational experience and the value of working together as a cohort of high-potential and engaged women: “Really wonderful to see all the specialists from different agencies come together to deliver a workshop that was of such high quality, pertinent and where you did not get a sense that these people don’t usually work together on a daily basis – there are lessons learned there to bring out for the leadership skill of UN leaders!!”
What lessons did you learn?
Despite the complexity of developing an inter-agency programme, the coordination has worked smoothly thanks to the willingness to focus on a shared purpose, open and frequent communication, a shared division of responsibilities and the reliability without anyone to report to or any auditing. Working in teams across UN organizations is not only possible but could be even a more efficient, innovating, cost-cutting, and a fun way to move ahead with the 2030 Agenda towards reaching gender parity.
* Taken from EMERGE’s submission to the CDR judging panel comprising a representative from Agenda and Terra Firma Associates