A warm hello from One Acre Fund. This year I am sharing our second annual People and DEI Report, which reports on our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Through this report, we share our progress on our goals for our people as openly as we share our progress in our work for farmers. Our ability to make farmers more prosperous depends on our team. Over the last year, we’ve grown to almost 10,000 talented staff. We believe in honoring each staff member as the unique individual they are and supporting them to develop into who they can become.
In 2020-21, we shared the urgency of building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive One Acre Fund. In 2021-22, we moved from vision to action. In particular, we made significant improvements to equity in staff pay, benefits and performance management, advancing two of our core commitments to staff. We defined policies we can explain clearly and uphold proudly for every staff member, at every level.
Hundreds of people championed these changes. Thank you to everyone who shaped our vision for the future, and did the complex work of bringing that vision to life in every corner of the organization. At the same time, we are still falling short in some areas. We’re learning to balance doing something fast and doing it well. We’re also learning that a tight focus is necessary to make progress, but an emphasis on one area can lead to trade-offs in another. For example, we have made big gains on representation of nationality, but need to put more emphasis on gender, and to consider the intersections between the two.
In 2023, we will maintain our focus on our core commitments to staff. We’re also growing from launching DEI initiatives to embedding DEI into how we operate. DEI used to be owned by a few staff groups; now, it’s part of how we define leadership in our organization.
This work is ongoing and will take years to become a permanent muscle at One Acre Fund. At the same time, it’s also important to take stock of our progress. We now know where we are going and are confident that we are headed in the right direction. We look forward to sharing our progress—and lessons learned—with you again next year.
Andrew Youn, CEO
We are deeply committed to building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. In 2022-23, we are continuing to invest in these areas that are most important to our team.
To understand our DEI report, it is helpful to know the structure of our workforce. Of our nearly 10,000 full-time employees, more than 99% work from our nine countries of operation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our field-based teams, who make up about three-quarters of our staff, provide direct customer service to farmers, while our office-based teams support our operations in the field. We’ve simplified our pay scales, and our roles span 14 levels of seniority, known as “job levels,” ranging from field officer (job level 1) to CEO (job level 14). In this report, we review staff data in four broad groupings:
- Field Staff (job levels 1-6): These field-based roles (about 74% of all positions) provide direct customer service to farmers. Sample responsibilities include selling quality farm products and training farmers on best farming practices.
- Office Staff (job levels 1-6): These office-based roles (about 19% of all positions) typically provide execution support for field operations. Sample responsibilities include managing shops or collecting data on field trials.
- Middle Management (job levels 7-10): These roles (5% of positions) typically manage complex workstrands or small departments. Sample responsibilities include managing our farmer call center or coordinating product distribution for 100,000 farmers.
- Senior Management (job levels 11-14): These roles (2% of positions) typically manage large departments or an entire country program. Sample responsibilities include serving as Country Director and managing budgets over $1 million.
At the middle manager level and above, many roles are open to staff of all nationalities. Only about 120 positions—or 1% of all roles—are now held by staff who are not nationals of African countries. Where applicable in this report, we directly compare the experience of African and non-African staff.
Collectively, we are a proudly multicultural team: we represent 36 countries, and 99% of us are nationals of African countries.
Diversity strengthens business decisions. One Acre Fund is committed to creating a workforce that represents the diversity of the countries and communities where we work.
In 2022, we initially prioritized two elements of diversity where we’ve historically had under-representation: nationality and gender. Over time, we expect to include more country-specific elements of diversity. We made important progress on nationality and slower progress on gender. In 2023, we plan to increase focus on balanced gender representation at all levels of the organization.
National representation continues to be a focus, particularly at leadership levels. In 2022, we improved representation of African nationals in most leadership positions, but least for the most senior roles:
- Middle management roles: 87% of these roles open to all nationalities (job levels 9 and 10) are now held by nationals of African countries.
- Senior management roles: 57% of positions at job levels 11-12 are now held by nationals of African countries, up from 39% in 2021. In our most senior positions (job levels 13-14), progress has been slower. Currently, only 22% of those positions are held by nationals of African countries, and we continue to aim for at least 50% representation.
- Country directors and deputy directors: 41% of roles are held by nationals of African countries. This is also an area where we are aiming for at least 50% representation. We are making progress, though it is slower than we would like.
Gender will be a top area of focus next year. Though just under half of our staff are women, we continue to see gender gaps at specific job levels. In office-based roles, women are under-represented in both lower job levels and at the most senior positions (such as country directors). We know that this is an area where we can do better, and are currently identifying the best ways to address these gaps, such as investing in targeted recruitment efforts to attract more women candidates to open roles.
In 2022, in our annual Culture & Inclusion survey (completed by 6,400 staff at all levels), staff reported rising agreement that One Acre Fund both values diversity and builds diverse teams.
In 2021, 80% of staff agreed that "One Acre Fund builds diverse teams." In 2022, 87% of staff agreed.
Hiring is an important way we diversify our team. As we grow, we add about 300 office-based roles and over 1,000 field-based roles each year.
Select middle management and senior management roles (at job levels 9-14) are open to staff of all nationalities. In these roles, nationals of African countries make up a growing portion of our new hires.
Women, however, continue to be underrepresented in our hiring pool. In office-based roles, women applicants make up around 20-30% of total applicants. Though women outperform men in the interview process, the low number of applications means we continue to see underrepresentation of women, particularly at lower job levels.
Nationals of African countries make up a growing portion of our new hires for senior roles. In 2021 and 2022 so far (through September), nearly 9 in 10 new hires were from the continent.
Of roles open to all nationalities, 88% of hires were African nationals in 2021-22, vs. 68% in 2019-20.
We know that retaining and developing our people creates more impact for farmers. We are proud to share that nearly 650 of our staff members (6%) have been with the organization for more than 10 years. Put in context, about half of the staff members who worked at One Acre Fund in 2012 still do today!
Nearly 3,400 staff members (35%) have been with the organization for more than 5 years. That means roughly two-thirds of the staff members who worked at One Acre Fund in 2017 still do today.
Our overall retention rate sits at 85%, which is good compared to global non-profit averages. Retention rates have remained relatively consistent, both over time and across roles. The one exception is that we regularly see lower retention levels in our most senior roles. In 2022, we made changes to both pay structures and role location intended to increase long-term retention, including in senior roles.
We are equitable in how we define strong performance, support career growth, and reward good work.
In 2022, we made major improvements to the way we pay staff and reward performance, advancing two of our core commitments to increasing equity for all 10,000 members of our team.
In 2022, we defined new policies that we can explain clearly and uphold proudly. They apply consistently to all staff, regardless of seniority, location, role, or any other factor. While this work is still underway, our annual staff surveys show that these changes are beginning to make a meaningful difference to daily lived experience.
Staff do performance reviews with their managers twice a year, but the process was time-consuming. In 2022, we made reviews simpler so staff and managers can spend less time on paperwork and more time on development. Critically, with extensive staff input, we also built our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion directly into our definition of leadership at One Acre Fund. Behaviors like inclusive communication, celebration, and trust are now expected and recognized in every role, at every level.
In 2022, we expanded four core benefits—health, housing, child, and retirement—to staff at all job levels (only health and housing were previously available to all staff). In particular, we expanded access to child and retirement benefits to support all staff to care for their families and save for the future.
We also simplified and expanded our pay ranges—the minimum and maximum salaries available at each job level—which ensures that we reward similar roles in similar ways. Most staff can now earn more raises within each role for strong performance without hitting a pay cap or needing a promotion.
"Life is good after DEI came to us. I have worked hard for the Rwandan farmers for a decade now, but it never felt like my work was recognized. But with the introduction of many good benefits, I am happy.” Louis Byunvuhore, Deputy National Field Director, Rwanda
We work to build an inclusive culture that brings out the best in our talented, multicultural team, where all staff feel valued and encouraged to contribute, regardless of their identity or seniority.
Each year, we run an annual staff survey to understand the staff experience. In our 2022 staff survey, the vast majority of us—95%—feel proud to work at One Acre Fund, and believe that the work we do makes a positive difference. This was consistent for all staff of all backgrounds, and in all roles.
In 2021, nationals of African countries reported that they were less likely to feel included in decisions (particularly in junior roles) or feel like their voice was valued (particularly in senior roles). In 2022, we focused on increasing participation in decision-making. Specifically, we scaled staff trainings on equity and inclusion, expanded reporting channels with a full-time mediator to resolve staff concerns of bias, and continued to diversify our leadership teams to be more representative of the staff and farmers we serve.
This year, nationals of African countries are now modestly more likely to feel more included in decisions and feel like their voice is valued. However, we still have work to do, particularly for staff in field roles (job levels 1-6), where only around two-thirds of staff say they feel included in decisions.
In 2023, we will deepen our commitment to ensuring that staff in field-based roles have access to core DEI resources and feel included in the decisions that affect their work.
In the 2022 staff survey, fully 98% of staff said they understood how their work contributes to One Acre Fund’s mission.
We hope that this People and DEI Report provides important transparency on our journey to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive One Acre Fund. In 2021, we laid out our vision for change. In 2022, we began an ambitious overhaul of the way we pay staff, assign benefits, and reward performance, to make the staff experience more equitable for all.
In 2023, we will continue investing in our key commitments to staff to sustain change. We aim to embed the changes we’ve begun, such as delivering more consistent performance reviews. We will also intensify focus on commitments where we have made less progress, such as gender representation or field inclusion.
We believe wholeheartedly in the importance of this work, and are more committed than ever to continuous improvement. We will continue to publish this report annually and share updates on our blog. Thank you for joining us on this journey.