How a learning partnership contributes to transformative practice

In September 2023 CIDT concluded a two-year learning partnership supporting the Laudes Foundation to integrate Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) into the day-to-day practice across the work of the Foundation.

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion is a framework used within organisations seeking to transform their work and impact in relation to inequality and inclusion and those for whom GESI has historically been less central. GESI approaches vary according to scenarios and contexts but encompass approaches such as GESI analysis, setting GESI indicators or GESI minimum standards, gender responsive budgeting, GESI integration action plans and many more.

A learning partnership can contribute significantly to building momentum for engagement around GESI – or indeed any learning agenda. So what is the role or function of a learning partner?

Source: NPC (social sector think tank)

Learning partnerships can take a variety of forms and functions, with no one-size-fits-all approach. A learning partner can be a critical friend, offer time and space to stop and reflect, help strengthen capacity, set strategy, provide technical support and allyship, and more. As the diagram shows the partnership features capacity, enabling but critically extends also into systemic issues of organisational culture. Three roles that a Learning Partner can take have been coined as ‘mirror, mentor and midwife‘! For the Laudes Foundation, the learning partnership was characterised by an ambition to push beyond any ‘tick-box’ exercise, enabling spaces for both staff and partners to learn and generate tools to respond to GESI goals, with a strong focus on two sectors: Built Environment and Capital Markets.

To accomplish this, the partnership started by identifying the ‘learning gaps and needs’ for both internal and external audiences, then elaborated a strategy to address these gaps and needs. During phase 1, the partnership collaboratively developed a road map with learning milestones on GESI: from GESI aware, to GESI sensitive, to GESI transformative thinking and programming as shown in the flowchart below.

GESI learning flowchart: Building learning capacity among Program Staff

Spearheaded by CIDT Associates Georgia Taylor and Seema Khan, the second phase was characterised by a stronger focus on partner support through:

  • Providing one-to-one support to Laudes’ partners to be more GESI-responsive in their work, through GESI scoping, analysis and assessments.
  • Cultivating a ‘learning by doing’ approach in the grant-making cycle and engagement with partners.

The Laudes Foundation is part of a growing movement to accelerate a transition to climate-positive and inclusive economy. Providing partners with philanthropic capital, expertise and connections, the foundation works collectively in specific industries to help catalyse systems change, influencing finance and capital markets to move towards a new more green and sustainable economic model.

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