We want to achieve a FAIR SHARE of women in leadership positions in the international civil society sector. We collect data on the percentage of women in senior management teams and boards of the largest international civil society organisations (CSOs) and call on them to achieve gender equality in their organisations by 2030. We track progress towards this goal annually with the FAIR SHARE Monitor. We also aim to contribute to a new, feminist leadership culture in the sector.
An organisation has achieved a FAIR SHARE of women leaders if it has
In contrast to many other sectors, the proportion of women in the civil society workforce is on average higher than 50%. This should be reflected in the management and board positions of CSOs. Otherwise, this imbalance would suggest that a man has better chances to reach a leadership position than a woman.
While we recognise the exclusion of people who do not identify with either option in the gender binary, for the accuracy of our results, we seek the data of people who currently identify as women. We see gender as a matter of self-determination, so our definition of ‘woman’ includes trans women and everyone else who currently identifies as a woman. It does not include people assigned as women or girls at birth who do not identify as such.
We are aware that as a team and on each individual level, we are in a constant process of unlearning the norms that have led to exclusion and marginalisation. We strive to work together with our community and learn how we can be part of a just and inclusive movement. This approach should be reflected in our choice of language, thus, we regularly review our terminology.
We understand that ethnic and racial identities as are not always clear-cut or fixed, but rather fluid, complex and context-dependent (For example, the widely understood definition of Blackness in Brazil may differ from the definition of Blackness in Canada). For that reason, we do not provide ‘one-size-fits-all’ definitions of these terms; any definition we might develop would require deciding who to include in or exclude from certain categories.
Therefore, for the purposes of data collection for the FAIR SHARE Monitor, we invite participating organisations to report the number of staff who self-identify with these terms. As there are organisations that do not collect such data, we also give organisations the option to state this during data collection.
We recognise that the term we are applying ‘BIWoC’ is not free of critique, yet it best captures the experience of being racialised (considered racially or ethnically ‘other’ in a given context) which we aim to collect data about. Due to histories of colonialism, the majority of social impact organisations have their headquarters in the Global North; hence, this is the context or perspective from which we ask participants to self-identify with the term ‘BIWoC’ or not.
Making the FAIR SHARE Monitor a more inclusive and intersectional tool will be an ongoing process of learning and adapting, and we expect to continually refine the Monitor based on feedback from the organisations we work with.
Through the FAIR SHARE Monitor, we publish data on women in leadership positions for some of the largest and well known international CSOs. Based on the data collected, we compile a ranking of organisations who have a fair share of women in leadership. We issued the first FAIR SHARE Monitor in March 2019. Currently, our database features 31international CSOs. In addition, we present a number of organisational Monitors, which include data of both the international secretariat and national affiliates or country offices. Our Monitor “Around the World” shows national organisations that have approached us to become part of the FAIR SHARE movement.
In March 2020, we launched our first national FAIR SHARE Monitor for Germany. We intend to add many of the world’s key countries over the next few years.
To participate in the FAIR SHARE Monitor 2021, email email@example.com
Based on our first data analysis, we can say:
First, we got in touch with the senior leadership of some of the largest and well-known international CSOs and asked them to provide us with the following data about their organisations:
Note: organisations who sign on to the FAIR SHARE Commitment also commit to data updates every year.
Second, we researched publicly available information on the websites and in annual reports of the organisations to the best of our knowledge and belief.
Third, we shared the data researched by us with the CSOs who did not deliver the data for their review and edits as necessary.
Fourth, we inserted the data in our Monitor, adhering to our aforementioned methodology.
In summary, this is how data is collected:
For the third Monitor we will be expanding our questions. We know that equality and justice can only be reached with an intersectional perspective. Thus, this year we will be asking organisations to give us information about the amount of Black, Brown and Indigenous women and women of colour (BIWoC) in their teams:
Organisations that cannot report this data will not be penalised. We provide the option to indicate that they do not have this data. We think of this a start to a much-needed conversation within the sector.
The data from the current survey phase and the resulting findings are always presented at an event in March, which this year will likely be online. The results are also published on our website.
The data collection process for the FAIR SHARE Monitor is composed of the following steps:
We focused on the largest international ‘brands’ covering a wide variety of issues including poverty, children’s rights, environmental protection and humanitarian work within the international CSO sector. In addition, some organisations who wished to join the initiative approached us. We aim to add further organisations in the coming years to show a wider picture of gender equality in our sector.
Currently, our database features
We endeavour to broaden our reach to key countries with large civil society sectors.
We ask all organisations to commit to achieving a FAIR SHARE of women by:
So far, 21 international and 36 national organisations have signed the commitment.
The FAIR SHARE Index shows how well or poorly women are represented in leadership based on our criteria for a FAIR SHARE (see point 2 above). It takes into account:
The lower the index, the more fairly women are represented in leadership. The perfect Index would be “0” but to acknowledge fluctuations in staff, we defined an index below 15 as a desirable FAIR SHARE. Over the years, we aim to measure whether an organisation’s FAIR SHARE Index improves or declines. The detailed figures for the Monitor 2020 can be downloaded here.
However, calculating the index this way meant organisations with more women leaders than the share of women staff received a negative score, and the higher the proportion of women leaders, the worse this score would be. For example, an organisation made up of 40% women staff and 60% women leaders would be penalised for this gap, even though it actually indicates a positive shift from the norm and a willingness to go beyond the minimum benchmark of 50/50.
In 2021 we therefore adjusted the formula to ensure that a FAIR SHARE gap in favour of women (more women leaders than their share of staff) would not be penalised in the same way as a FAIR SHARE gap in favour of men (more male leaders than their share of staff). We do this by applying a 50% correction to the score of such organisations.
Our vision is not that eventually all organisations are fully led by women. However, given that for so long the norm has been that men dominate the ranks at all levels, we understand gender dynamics skewed towards women as part of the process towards gender equality.
We call for a FAIR SHARE and not for the highest percentage of women leaders possible. This means that also organisations who have a much higher percentage of women leaders than women staff members score lower. We are aware that to achieve gender equality in organisations there might be a need to have more women leaders on top during a transformation phase, but we cannot incorporate this in our FAIR SHARE Monitor in a meaningful way. We do want to appreciate these organisations and take especially their experiences and best practices to share with other organisations. We are convinced that these organisations are leading the transformation towards gender equality and aim to learn from and with them about best practise and the way forward. We therefore highlight them specifically in our Monitor analysis.
We first calculated the likeliness of women to make it to the top within individual organisations by dividing the percentage of women on staff by the percentage of women in leadership. We did the same for men within one organisation. Next, we divided the result for women by the result for men to calculate the comparative advantage for men. Based on the results by organisations we calculated the average figure across all organisations listed in the Monitor.
For the organisations that did not provide or confirm any data and where there was no public data available, we estimated the proportion of women in their workforce at 70%. According to the very few available studies, this is the average proportion of women in the workforce of the sector. However, our 2020 Monitor where we received data from a large number of organisations shows that for those 33 organisations we look at the average number of women on staff is about 60%. The more data we collect over the years, the more accurate our averages will become.
No. Gender equality is a key objective for our societies; it is listed as one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and many countries have introduced laws on gender equality. CSOs have a special responsibility to contribute to a more equal and just society and it should not be at their discretion whether they live up to this standard or not. Therefore, we have selected the largest organisations as the biggest levers for change to hold them to account. Organisations not yet listed are invited to join the Monitor voluntarily! Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
We do not publish any personal data, but always and only the aggregated number of women at the different organisational levels. The holders of leadership positions are usually publicly available on the websites of the organisations.
Women are half of the population and deliver most of the work in the sector. Thus, we focus on the largest under-represented group in the leadership of these organisations for which data is available. As a first step towards intersectionality the FAIR SHARE Monitor 2021 will be collecting data on the number of Black, Brown and Indigenous women and women of colour. We understand that more diversity in terms of age, race, sexual orientation, religion, social background or nationality in the management and governance levels of civil society is vital for a credible sector and want to contribute to this necessary cultural change with our initiative. Therefore we also advocate for an intersectional approach in our sector with other activities, such as the Feminist Leadership Project and the Action Circle.
Furthermore, we recognise that men are also not a homogenous group and may experience discrimination according to their ethnicity, religion or sexuality (for example). However, FAIR SHARE’s mission is to measure and call attention to the position of women of all racial/ethnic backgrounds in leadership positions in the NGO sector specifically. We believe this approach can complement the work being carried out by peer organisations who focus on other forms of discrimination. See, for example, the Racial Equity Index.
Our ambition is to reach the entire sector working on social justice, human rights and gender equality; including foundations, social businesses and other actors. Our leaders also come from a variety of backgrounds, for example women entrepreneurs. As we expand the Monitor, we will feature more organisation types to reflect this ambition.
Having commenced in March 2019, the FAIR SHARE Monitor will be updated annually towards 2030. We aim to expand the FAIR SHARE Monitor to other countries in the coming years. In addition, we want to work with the committed organisations on shared strategies, best practise and peer exchange when it comes to gender equality and Feminist Leadership.
The idea of FAIR SHARE came from several meetings between women from the development sector who were shocked by a series of reports on sexual and power abuse in the sector, and who wanted to make a difference. Since then, we have systematically started to build a movement with, for example, the Action Circle who leads our voice and strategy, the Chief Advisers who lend their expertise and network to FAIR SHARE and the many individuals who subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media. FAIR SHARE of Women Leaders e.V. is a charitable non-profit association registered in Germany. Read more about us here.
The foundation and start-up phase of our organisation was supported by the feminist philanthropist Ise Bosch. Our work in Germany is supported by the Demokratie-Stiftung Campact, the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth as well as the Heinrich Böll Foundation, who has supported our work of the Action Circle. So far, most of those involved have worked for the association on a voluntary basis
We are looking for strong partners and enthusiastic individuals who
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