Senior Director - Gender Equality & Social Inclusion (Open to London)

Programs Washington, District of Columbia


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps alleviates poverty, suffering, and oppression and works to build secure, productive, and just communities in over 40 countries around the world. Our Program Department supports field-led work that delivers measurable impact.

Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department.  It houses subject matter experts whose mission is to help our global teams apply the most effective solutions to the world’s toughest challenges, while building our global reputation and resources to do so.  The TSU helps set agency-wide strategy and develops strategic approach documents and other technical briefs for their practice area to inform the entire organization’s work. In addition, it offers technical expertise to offices worldwide -  supporting country strategy development and assessments, and engaging throughout the program life cycle from project design and proposal development to quality implementation and evaluations.

As technical experts in their field, TSU Team members are well versed in global practices and abreast of sector specific trends.  They also represent Mercy Corps with donors and other strategic partners, and inform and influence both internal approaches and global understanding on how to move the needle on some of the most intractable humanitarian and development challenges of our time, especially in fragile settings. 

General Position Summary

The TSU Senior Director of Gender Equality & Social Inclusion (GESI) guides and facilitates the work of the Gender Equality and Social inclusion and the Youth & Protection teams with an eye towards unleashing top-flight performances of their team members and also building approaches that are cross sectoral and integrated – rather than stove piped.  The Sr. Director understands that the root causes of inequality require shared solutions across sectors and systems.  The Sr. Director guides the teams to test new approaches, expand innovations and build strategic partnerships that challenge and shift the structures that perpetuate inequality, that holistically support young people as economic and social change agents, and intentionally engage and reach adolescents during humanitarian crises.  The Sr. Director is a strong influencer both inside and outside the Agency with the ability to communicate Mercy Corps’ technical strengths and overall vision.

As needed, the Senior Director represents the Vice President for Technical Leadership in executive-level meetings, as well the entire TSU in internal and external key Agency meetings.  In addition to direct oversight of the team and strategic engagement on technical matters, each Sr. Director takes on cross-team assignments that create coherence and clarity of approaches across the entire unit.  The Sr Director collaborates closely with other teams across the global agency.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategic Vision and leadership

        Guide the agency in the implementation of the new agency-wide Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Inclusion strategy and support the Youth Engagement campaign.  Identify opportunities to engage and amplify the strategy’s programmatic-focused outcomes with global teams, including regions, country and HQ teams. 


        Work in partnership with the global human resources unit that is leading the internal organizational efforts to foster an inclusive, diverse and equitable culture at MC, especially at this relates to the new strategy. 


        Work with the Vice President to guide the overall vision and approach of the operating unit, delivering clear actionable plans to achieve Unit priorities.


        Influence the Agency’s strategic framework, as well as country and regional strategies, to meaningfully engage and be grounded in the needs and opportunities of those we seek to support, with a special focus on young people and marginalized groups. 


        Set direction for GESI, and input into Youth & Protection technical team strategies and related workplans, ensuring coherence across composite teams and wider TSU; strategically engage to advance implementation of those plans.


        Identify opportunities to ground-truth technical approaches and lead efforts to drive multi-sectoral approaches and tackle thematic issues (e.g., women’s economic empowerment, adolescents in emergencies) in new ways to advance Agency innovation.  


        Identify internal and external trends with potential to inform or affect TSU work and assure team readiness to adapt to changing conditions and expectations.


        Manage the balance of workstreams across the GESI and YPP teams to maximize impact on quality and growth, providing strategic direction in line with Agency expectations.


        Build and maintain external partnerships and serve as key external communicator for Mercy Corps in a wide range of public fora.


        Ensure maximum impact of TSU budget, engaging in annual planning and quarterly reviews of the entire TSU budget as a member of the TSU Sr Directors team.  Seek standardized approaches across teams where appropriate and adjust budgets over time as needed to maximize use of annual budget.



Program development and support

        Provide counsel on big opportunities through robust technical design processes.


        Explore and maximize new lines of revenue, especially relating to “big ideas”, multi country or TSU-led initiatives.  Emphasis on quality and strategic growth of gender portfolio and gender capacity by feminist donors, such as the Governments of Canada, Sweden, France and Germany, as well as leading foundation donors.


        Guide teams to facilitate multi-team/multi country shared learning on what is working in order to standardize best practice, develop comparative advantages for new program development and advance strategic partnerships.  


        Actively contribute and engage in advancing the localization strategy with country teams to ensure more inclusive partnerships in design and implementation.  


        Guide teams to develop learning agenda around key areas of the new agency wide Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Inclusion strategy.


        Engage GESI and YPP teams on priority monitoring, evaluation and minimum standards relating to technical approaches.



Team Management

        Fully embrace the Agency’s culture and values and actively work to achieve its goals relating to the Gender Equality, Diversity and Social Inclusion strategy (2020-2023).  Sensitive to and appreciation of diversity and able to foster a spirit of inclusion and respect for difference amongst team members.


        Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence on their own team and embrace their role and responsibilities in advancing the shared goals of the larger TSU, to forge its reputation as a cohesive, strategic and responsive world class technical unit.


        As a member of the Senior Director group, engage with other Senior Directors regularly on team plans and budget issues, work collectively to advance coherence across the Unit, and ensure communications flow down in a timely manner to Directors.


        Manage teams and financial resources to ensure they are working in line with Agency’s Impact, Innovation and Influence objectives and TSU strategic priorities.


        Ensure accountability of Directors for workplans and overall team performance, including adherence to TSU wide processes (trip reports/SOWs, direct costing, expense reports, tracker, etc).  


        Conduct regular performance reviews, adhering to Agency personnel policies and practice.


        Help team members identify and take advantage of opportunities to ensure professional growth and provide advice and encouragement to help them reach their full potential. 


        Empower teams to advance leadership in their fields and support professional growth, including creating space for Directors to engage on agency-wide and senior level discussions.


REPRESENTATION, thought leadership, and partnership development

        Represent the VP for Technical Leadership and the larger TSU as requested at key internal stakeholder and leadership meetings.


        Interact expertly with the rest of the TSU Senior Directors group, with other Agency senior leadership, members of the Executive Team and Board members.


        Strengthen Mercy Corps’ profile and representation through expert interaction with internal stakeholders, partner agencies, donors and other networks and groups, especially around GESI with key feminist donors.


        Spearhead technical partnership initiatives and empower Technical Directors to do the same.


        Advance external Influence in close coordination with other Agency team leads, including Policy and Research, Program and Quality, Marketing and Communications teams to raise Mercy Corps global profile.


        Participate in developing TSU knowledge management practices that lend coherence to TSU technical products as a whole and maximize impact through coordinated and creative dissemination practices.


Supervisory Responsibility

The position has supervisory responsibility over the Director of Young People and Protection and the GESI Team Advisors. 


Reports Directly To: Vice President of Technical Leadership

Works Directly With: The TSU management team, the TSU leadership group (comprised of all TSU Senior Directors and Directors); the PaQ team (in particular the GESI Specialist), other members of the Program Team including the Senior VP of Program; Regional Directors and teams, Country Directors and teams, and others.


Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.


Minimum qualifications and Transferable Skills 

       M.S./M.Sc. or equivalent or above in a relevant technical field is required

       15+ years experience in the international gender equality, youth and social inclusion space that includes:

  • Working overseas and managing field-based projects.
  • Direct experience leading and influencing agency stakeholders to embrace and adopt a gender equality and social inclusion processes as core to all programs.
  • Experience with adaptive management and navigating funding opportunities, donors, and priorities successfully.
  • Building solid working relationships with donors, peer agencies, corporations, and foundations, including engaging in influential interactions around key priorities.
  • Demonstrated representation skills.
  • Strongly established external voice in this area, established professional networks and willingness and ability to grow more.

       5 to 7 years of management and supervisory experience that includes:

  • Effective coaching, development, and management of individual staff and teams.
  • Proven leadership, self-motivation, and interpersonal skills.
  • Leading matrixed teams for successful results in non-hierarchical settings.
  • Working with teams of diverse backgrounds.

       Exceptionally strong verbal and written communications skills and organizational skills are required.

       Willingness and ability to travel frequently to Mercy Corps project sites and field locations, including traveling to insecure environments, is required.

       Familiarity with major donors such as USAID, DFID, feminist donors and relevant foundations and corporations.

       Fluency in English is required; fluency in a foreign language preferred.


Success Factors

The senior director must be a superb team player who has the technical and functional skills to lead the TSU as a coherent, strategic and field-responsive best in class technical unit.  The Senior Director must be able to guide a composite team ensuring coherence of vision and strategy across groups as well as be able to identify and pursue new paths forward.  The Senior Director must guide vision and plan for their team(s) that both integrate well and are mutually reinforcing with other parts of the TSU and contributes to the Agency’s Strategic Compass.  Senior Directors interact expertly with other senior directors as the TSU management team and also with executive team members, peers and high profile donors to maximize MC influence and impact.  In addition, the leader must have strong interpersonal and communication skills to effectively reach across departments within the agency and to networks and associations outside it to build critical partnership to further thought leadership, program innovation and ensure MC relevance and impact on the industry. The successful Senior Director must be a self starter who demonstrates exceptional ability in leading organizational initiatives and understanding Mercy Corps’ strategic plans and objectives.  The senior Director must have high proficiency for working in varied cultural, political, and religious environments, and must be able to travel and work successfully in austere environments and maintain poise in stressful situations.


Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.


Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.


Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.