Diverse and Inclusive Humanitarian Leadership

How could diverse and inclusive leadership provide the humanitarian sector with fresh perspectives to tackle its most pressing issues? How do we strengthen humanitarian leadership to make it fit for purpose?
As part of our Humanitarian Horizons research program, Humanitarian Advisory Group investigates.

State of Diversity:

Global Humanitarian Sector Survey NOW CLOSED

Did you know that there has been no sector-wide research on
diversity in humanitarian leadership?

Many believe the international humanitarian sector needs greater diversity of approaches, funding sources and thinking to confront its rapidly changing landscape, and that this diversity needs to be reflected in our leadership.

But in order to analyse the impact of diverse leadership on issues such as the effectiveness of humanitarian response, risk management, and localisation, we must first answer the question: how diverse and inclusive are we?

Please contact Kate Sutton (ksutton@hag.org.au) or Pip Henty (phenty@hag.org.au) to learn more about the research and how your organisation could benefit from participating in its in-depth second phase.

“The World [Humanitarian] Summit has … reaffirmed the value of convening a diversity of stakeholders to develop solutions to shared problems. Only by harnessing the skills and ideas of a diverse range of stakeholders will we be able to respond to the magnitude of the challenges and implement changes on the scale required.”

-UN General Assembly (2016b), page 3

Why explore diverse and inclusive humanitarian leadership?

The humanitarian landscape is changing rapidly, with greater humanitarian need than ever before, funding shortfalls and increasingly complex humanitarian disasters. Increasing need and complexity mean the demands on humanitarian leadership are mounting, including to enable and guide organisations to respond more quickly and effectively.

What do we mean by diversity and inclusion?

Whilst commonly perceived as a matter of gender and race, diversity extends beyond these demographic categories. Diversity encompasses visible and invisible differences between individuals according to gender, age, disability, cultural background, sexual orientation and social and economic background, profession, education, work experiences and organisational role.

It’s not all about diversity – organisations must draw on their diversity and foster an inclusive environment where a diversity of people feel valued and respected.

Hypotheses for the Research

1.  Organisations with more diverse and inclusive humanitarian leadership teams:
a. make better decisions
b. generate more innovative solutions and products
c. build greater trust and confidence

2. Organisations with more diverse and inclusive leadership teams:
a. deliver more inclusive response operations
b. engage more meaningfully with, and are more accountable to, affected populations

Want to know more? Please get in touch with the research team:

Kate Sutton at

Pip Henty at

Seeta Giri at

How can you be involved?

Take the State of Diversity Survey! Link above.
If your organisation is interested in better understanding the impact of diverse and inclusive leadership on their capacity to function, thrive and improve, both in their humanitarian action and their internal outcomes, we at HAG would love to engage them in research to provide insight into whatever issue matters most to the organisation.

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The Diverse and Inclusive Humanitarian Leadership research stream is being conducted as part of Humanitarian Horizons. Humanitarian Horizons is a three-year research initiative that adds unique value to humanitarian action in Asian and Pacific contexts by generating evidence-based research and creating conversation for change. The program is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. To learn more about the Humanitarian Horizons research initiative, and the rest of HAG’s research, click here:

© Heading photograph: Konstantin Yolshin / Shutterstock: Lanterns of different colors hanging from sticks in Hoi An.

Humanitarian Advisory Group
ABN: 17 164 772 936
17/31 Queen Street
Melbourne VIC 3000