Peridot has long championed the benefits of co-chairing; our MD, Grant Taylor, is Co-Chair of Getting on Board and has written pieces about his own experience of co-chairing and co-chairing as a means of succession planning.

Who

For over 30 years, Womankind Worldwide has worked in partnership to strengthen and support women’s rights organisations and movements with the resources they need to challenge oppression and change the lives of women, in the home, the workplace and the communities they live in.

Led by their partners, Womankind Worldwide builds successful projects and amplifies women’s voices. By taking collective action with women’s movements, they advocate for changes to laws and policies across the world that ensure women’s rights. Womankind Worldwide pushes for a world where women and girls and people of diverse genders don’t just survive but thrive.Womankind Worldwide acts as a force for change and works with women’s rights organisations and movements to end all forms of violence, advance economic rights and strengthen women’s influence and decision-making power.

Context

In 2023, Womankind Worldwide approached Peridot to support them in appointing a new Co-Chair to lead the board in partnership with their current Co-Chair, Twasiima Bigirwa. 2023 would bring change and transition for Womankind Worldwide as they appointed a new Co-Chair; their longstanding CEO would retire in the summer of 2023 after seven years leading the organisation; six new Trustees had been appointed to the board at the end of 2022, and were to be inducted; and Womankind Worldwide had developed and launched a new strategy for 2023-2030 which sees them working with partners to be more innovative and decolonise their practice, whilst learning and growing as a feminist and anti-racist organisation.

Womankind Worldwide is an intersectional, progressive, and inclusive organisation that celebrates a shared visionary feminist leadership model in line with its feminist principles.

Given our strong track record supporting organisations to appoint Chairs, Trustees, Treasurers, and Non-Executive Directors, and with our MD Grant Taylor’s direct experience as a Co-Chair, we were best placed to support Womankind Worldwide with this appointment.

Brief

Twasiima Bigirwa brings a range of expertise to Womankind Worldwide, so it was key to appoint a new Co-Chair with additional and different skills and experience, such as expertise in UK governance. It was important this person had operated internationally and had an appreciation and an unwavering commitment to shared leadership and the empowerment of women, girls and people of diverse genders. The new Co-Chair needed to bring an enthusiasm for board development, implementing strategy and enhancing board dynamics to support the board of Womankind Worldwide to continue to develop a high-performing board.

The style and approach were key, and the new Chair needed to be collegiate with a collaborative style, able to share power with others; someone who is self-reflexive, yet also challenging and able to act as a critical friend when appropriate.

To ensure the success of the co-chair model, we were looking for people who can share their vision of how they will take time with Twasiima to understand each other’s needs and clearly define the distribution of work and communication methods that will help set up the co-chairs for a successful term of shared leadership.

“We have never worked with Peridot before, and I’ve been extremely impressed with the professionalism and hard work performed by the team. Jennifer Horan is an absolute star, very responsive with an intelligent approach to hiring us the right person and adding lots of value through the process. Thank you and your team for all your hard work.”

Feedback from the Womankind Worldwide team

Process

The first priority, and essential element of the recruitment, was to undertake a number of briefing sessions with key stakeholders from the Board and wider network to gain a broad understanding of Womankind Worldwide, its opportunities and challenges.

We built and designed a dedicated online recruitment site and candidate pack for prospective candidates to access information. The site showcased key corporate information to help raise the profile of Womankind’s new strategy.

We had to consider the geographical diversity of the profile of programmes and partners Womankind Worldwide works with, and our initial research identified a huge range of organisations operating in similar environments. This included organisations within INGOs, public, private, and not for profit sectors and organisations such as think tanks.

Within these organisations, we investigated the profiles of board, executives and senior directors, researching their backgrounds for relevant experience to match the requirements for the role of Co-Chair. To help broaden the reach to diverse networks, we liaised extensively with the INGO sector.

Following our research activity, we carried out specific research which mapped the profiles of almost 300 people. Everyone identified had a strong connection to the INGO sector and shared feminist values.

To complement the research and search, we ran a social media and advertising campaign using a range of platforms including Twitter, Linkedin, and board specific sites such as Women on Board.

Over six weeks, we engaged with potential candidates, sought recommendations, and followed on referrals generated through Peridot’s networks.

Outcome

We received eight applications for the Co-Chair position. Following two panel interviews, Olga Ghazaryan was appointed as the new Co-Chair of Womankind Worldwide. She joined Twasiima Bigirwa as a fellow Co-Chair of Womankind’s board of trustees on 1 August 2023.

Olga is a feminist and social justice activist with 30 years of experience in international development across 50 countries. She’s worked extensively across women’s rights, particularly in advancing women’s participation in leadership, ending violence against women and economic justice. She’s also previously held executive and non-executive director roles with Oxfam, Norwegian Red Cross, and Water Aid, and similar capacities within the private sector.

The board of Womankind Worldwide is led by two bold feminist leaders who are steering Womankind Worldwide to greater heights in contributing to gender-equal work for all women, girls, and people of all genders.

“I am excited to work with Twasiima, the board and the leadership of Womankind. I want to ensure that the organisation continues to be progressive, intersectional, and inclusive. My aspiration is working in partnership with the leadership team and supporting and stretching them to pro-actively respond to external opportunities and make Womankind’s brave 2030 strategy a reality.”

Olga Ghazaryan, Co-Chair, Womenkind Worldwide