Organization Development & Capability Building of Staff
ABOUT FEMINIST APPROACH TO TECHNOLOGY (FAT)
Feminist Approach to Technology is a non-profit organization set up with a dream to bridge the gap between girls/ women and technology. Over the last 10 years, the organization has trained more than 1300 girls through their ‘Young Women Leadership Program’ and ‘Girls in Stem’ programs, operating in four states (Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Delhi) of India. FAT has inspired over 200 young women across these states to take collective action within their communities for gender justice, education, and other social issues.
CONTEXT FOR THE PHICUS ENGAGEMENT
Over a period, a few young women who attended these programs, joined FAT as interns across the program and support functions. About 16 young women have stayed on, learnt the ways of working, developed new skills, contributed to the growth of the organization, and aspire to play lead roles in shaping the organization for tomorrow.
FAT announced their 3-year transition period in Jan 2020, where they envisioned an organization that was ‘community-led/ girl-led’, where all key positions would be held by young women from the programs at FAT. The leadership positions (Co-Directors) and representation on the Board, would also be from the pool of young women graduating from these programs.
FAT engaged with Phicus to help with the transition process across three different spheres.
Organizational strengthening and building systems and processes relevant for the transition.
Advisor/anchor coach for the leadership team
Capacity building for the staff
Pre-Covid Phase: Phicus helped FAT take stock of its organization health through an extensive self and Phicus facilitated evaluation process. This included gathering quantitative and qualitative data through individual conversations and group discussions, with all key members of the organization. A number of critical areas emerged from the study, which needed immediate attention. FAT acknowledged them and demonstrated keenness to partner with Phicus over an extended period, to help them with a range of organizational and leadership solutions.
Post-Covid Phase: While the 3-year transition period was announced post phase 1 of the collaboration, the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the organization to stay true to its plan. Relief work and livelihoods for the community took priority, while employees’ well-being and remote working also needed a lot of attention.
One big area of focus for the organization, during the onset of COVID-19 has been capacity building of the young women. Since all of them are first generation professionals, they have limited work experience/ exposure and professional skills. Over six months, Phicus has conducted structured and semi-structured interventions/ workshops that have helped staff members learn new skills and develop their leadership abilities.
Phicus has been working with FAT now for about a year and we have been a part of all the discussions around visioning, strategy building, identifying priorities for the organization etc. We co-evolved an organization structure that represented collectives and a honeycomb structure (without designations and team deliverables). This has been something that the organisation will transition into over the next 3 years with support from Phicus.
Phicus has also been instrumental in supporting the organization with people related processes, starting from writing out JDs for key positions to interviewing candidates (as a first round) and helping them get onboarded. A well thought through, collaborative process was conducted to define the skills framework for the team and conduct year end appraisals in a transparent, collaborative, and feminist approach.
The leadership team at FAT believes that it is imperative to invest in the development of the young women to realise the vision of FAT. The organization is keen to undertake various initiatives at a strategy level, system, and process level as well as capability building level. Phicus will be a part of this journey along with FAT to help them achieve their goals for this year.
Engaged in a retainer mode, Phicus will be called in to work with the team at FAT around people practices strengthening and supporting the leaders brainstorm and make relevant decisions, that help the leaders and organization achieve sustainability.