CHS Alliance’s organisational culture events at HNPW: fostering collaboration for collective change

CHS Alliance held a series of sessions focused on organisational culture change in aid organisations as the Power & Culture theme lead at UN OCHA’s 2023 Humanitarian Networks & Partnerships Weeks (HNPW).

These events, held in collaboration with Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and sponsored by Cigna and Fidelity aimed to incentivise, support, measure, resource, research and partner for collective culture change across the aid system to better meet the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS).

CHS Alliance supports organisations to deliver on their CHS Commitments to people affected by crises. To meet these Commitments its vital that organisations think about how we work, not just what we deliver.

No amount of tools, guidance or schemes will truly change the way the aid system works without cultivating organisational cultures in which mindsets, values and behaviours align to the CHS.

Over series of interactive and fun sessions, participants learned about:

  1. Incentivising organisational culture change

Thanks to Panos Moumtzis, Global Executive Leadership Institute, Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, ACT Alliance, Chris Rassi, IFRC, Maria Immonen, LWF World Service, and Willis G. Wang, Boston University for sharing:

  • The importance of collaboration and leadership in driving positive change.
  • The need to promote decolonisation in aid organisations.
  • Removing fear and embracing transparency to drive cultural change.

Audience members at CHS Alliance’s HNPW session.

  1. Supporting organisational culture change

Emmanuelle Lacroix, Cornerstone On Demand Foundation, Oge Chukwudozie, Safeguarding Resource Support Hub, Nigel McNeil, Fidelity Workplace Consulting and Tom Fisher, Imaginetics highlighted:

  • The relationship between safeguarding and cultural change.
  • The need for belief and imagination to drive organisational change.
  • The significance of human relationships, trust and shared values in creating a positive organisational culture.
  1. Measuring organisational culture change

Nienke Mulder, the Global Fund, Pete Greyshock, Medair, Jean-Philippe Provost, Fidelity Workplace Consulting, Patrice Brun, Great Place to Work Switzerland and Livia Mensah, CIGNA came together to discuss:

  • The importance of linking surveys to real solutions.
  • The correlation between opportunities to connect with mental health and well-being.
  • The pillars of a great workplace are trust, pride and strong values.
  • The foundational need to address mental health challenges in the workplace.

Panellists at the CHS Alliance Measuring organisational culture change session.

  1. Resourcing organisational cultural change

Speakers Elianna Sabbag, Giving Women, Carole Frampton and Heloise Heyer, PeaceNexus Foundation and Lai Ling Lee MSF Suisse shared:

  • The need to focus on strengthening local partners and actors.
  • The challenges of adapting to different contexts and the need for explicit change processes.
  • The importance of prioritising the well-being and security of staff in complex crisis situations.
  • Removing fear and embracing transparency to drive cultural change.

Group conversations at a CHS Alliance’s HNPW session.

  1. Researching Organisational Culture Change

Thanks to Dr. Karina Nielsen, Sheffield University, Nigel McNeil, Fidelity and Martina Brostrom, CHS Alliance for delving into:

  • The importance of research in evaluating organisational culture change.
  • Techniques for managers such as training, leadership development and circle talking.
  • How building a strong culture takes time, but it can be destroyed quickly.
  • Fear of reprisals and reputational concerns when trying to shift cultures.
  1. Partnering for Organisational Culture Change

Wrapping up the series, Deborah Abbott, Leading Dragons, Carla Uriarte, ICRC, Hitendra Solanki, London South Bank University, Cynthia Hansen, Innovation Foundation and Angela Rooney, Fidelity shared:

  • The importance of partnerships and collaboration in promoting good mental health and well-being.
  • Having a self-reflective and values-based culture as the foundation for becoming a good partner.
  • The vital need to understand each other’s ‘language’, have a common purpose and build a shared platform for communication.

Panellists at the CHS Alliance Partnering for organisational culture change session.

Thanks to all the speakers, participants and sponsors for sharing their experiences, challenges and strategies to transform cultures in the aid system.

These two days highlighted the need for continuous learning, adaptation and collaboration to create an aid system where organisations meet their CHS Commitments holistically – throughout the very DNA of their work.

Learn more about CHS Alliance’s culture change work.