GoBarefoot Blog

GoBarefoot Blog

Connecting The Development Sector

Finding the Balance Between Pragmatism and Idealism is Essential – Ingrid Srinath, Director, Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University

GoBarefoot, a professional networking platform exclusively catering to the Development sector, by facilitating connections and exchange of ideas and information, has collaborated with Katalyst India and Third Sector Partners to present “Leadership Conversations in the Development Sector”, a series of insightful interviews conducted by Shital Kakkar Mehra, India’s leading executive presence coach and Founder at GoBarefoot. Featuring seasoned and reputed leaders from various verticals of the social sector, the series offers a peek behind the scenes and helps viewers find answers to the most pressing questions facing the sector.

With the increase in life expectancy and quality, today’s youth have a lot of time to accomplish things. They can try different things and even have 3 different careers in the space of their lifetime, feels Ingrid Srinath, Director, Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University. She advices young leaders to deviate from linear career plans and find the right balance between pragmatism and idealism. “Use your hard pragmatic skills and align it with your values. Create your own peer network and don’t be limited to the people you work with,” Srinath said. She believes that we must remain open to ideas, perspectives, models, and partnerships with a cross-sectoral outlook to drive effective change. It is best to invest time in building consensus around a vision, and then giving people adequate space to innovate in their own way while implementing the vision. Raise the bar constantly.

Cross-sectoral Learnings

The development sector must emulate the globally disruptive initiatives and scale of the corporate sector while setting aside differences and collaborating to lobby for our own sector. Build institutions and brands rather than remaining personality or relationship driven. Lastly, don’t adopt excessive pragmatism where the ends justify the means as we would, then, lose sight of values like justice, equity and dignity. Young employees in creative sectors are looking to align personal values with the jobs and companies they work with. Therefore, the corporate sector should learn mission driven motivation from the development sector. Similarly, the government should imbibe values of service and humility while engaging with citizens. They should focus on longer-term thinking and earn people’s trust. Partnering in a genuine way is of extreme importance today. 

Changing Donor Profiles

There is a whole bunch of new philanthropists who are bringing fresh ways of thinking to the sector. Post COVID, people from technology backgrounds are accelerating into philanthropy. There is a huge surge in online giving and mutual aid, with a focus on getting rid of the intermediary. We are also seeing overseas Indians, and the diaspora across the world, donating money and undertaking advocacy for causes in India. New intermediaries like Ola, Amazon and Facebook are coming to the forefront and there is a shift in agency. Donors now look for a greater say in the design of the programmes they fund – they want to be co-creators rather than just being relegated to writing a cheque.

Structural Changes for Gender Parity 

We should adopt compulsory paternity leaves to level the playing field for the biggest disparity is motherhood. We must redefine gender roles in family and society, in addition to offering onsite crèches and flexible working schedules to help women rise to the top. Companies need to exercise the will to support women and enable them to develop, survive and reach the top. We need more feminist leaders in positions of power to make these decisions.

Read our previous conversation with Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India here.

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