The diversity question

Posted on: June 10, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

The diversity question More results from the Jordanian humanitarian worker survey. First, a comment about psychological comfort in the workplace From the worker perspective, one very important factor determining comfort in the workplace is how accepted one feels concerning their various social statuses.  There are many statuses, both ascribed and achieved (and some a hybrid) that, depending upon the social context, emerge as ‘master statuses’ which can significantly color how one is viewed, responded to, and ultimately either accepted or marginalized both socially and professionally. Among these statuses are gender, age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, level of education, and outstanding physical attributes. Adding to the complexity is the fact of intersectionality, the complex and inherent interconnection of power and marginalization that impacts everyone either directly or indirectly. Most of us train ourselves to see beyond the surface (to become ‘woke’), but the reality is that life-long socialization into using a specific…

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The mental health of Jordanian humanitarian workers

Posted on: June 9, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

The mental health of Jordanian humanitarian workers More results from the Jordanian humanitarian worker survey. Suicide happens I write this post in the immediate aftermath of watching the many tributes to American author, chef, and CNN ‘correspondent’ Anthony Bourdain. News of Bourdain’s suicide came just days after designer Kate Spade met the same fate.  As is the way of the news cycle, there is now a great deal of attention on mental health issues generally and depression specifically. This topic is personal. Regarding depression, I can say ‘me too.’  It sucks. Given the context, this post on the mental health of humanitarian aid workers seems timely.  As a blanket statement I’ll argue (the obvious?) that far too little attention is paid to the mental health of both aid workers and those in the affected community. Yes, I know delivery of effective treatment is complicated and even contentious, and many HR…

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Job security and advancement possibilities

Posted on: June 7, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

Job security and advancement possibilities More results from the Jordanian humanitarian worker survey. Not secure We live in a world where certainty can be a scarce commodity, and in the Middle East, especially in the Levant, political volatility inevitably leads to rocky and tenuous economic conditions for most people.  Jordan serves as an international hub for many large INGOs, and those employed in the humanitarian sector make up a significant portion of the entire workforce.  In this next section of the survey I examine perceptions about job security and advancement opportunities and, given the overall geo-politics of the region and in Jordan particularly, the results will surprise few. To preface this section it seems relevant to note that among this sample of Jordanians nearly half -44%- had worked for three or more organizations. There appears to be a good bit of lateral mobility within the humanitarian work force, and many…

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Family matters & humanitarians

Posted on: June 4, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

Family matters & humanitarians Married and obligated The respondents to the survey were mostly single -64%, with 70% of the females reporting being unmarried compared to 52% of the males reporting same.  Of minor note, the females in the sample were slightly younger than the males, with 17% reporting being between 18-27 compared to 6% of the males. Early in my research while workshopping drafts of the survey in Amman, marital status came up in conversation, with single individuals indicating they felt an expectation that they should work longer hours, and those married indicating the role strain of being a spouse/parent and humanitarian professional was quite significant. I asked, “To what extent has your marital status impacted your humanitarian aid work experience?” Here are the aggregate results indicating that while most -64%- said that their marital status has no impact on their humanitarian work experience, by a ratio of 2:1 -24%…

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Gender and #MeToo

Posted on: June 2, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

Gender and #MeToo Gender in the Jordanian humanitarian workspace One goal of the survey was to hear both male and female voices. Overall nearly twice as many females than males -65%- found their way to the survey url and responded.  This gender difference has been present in all three of my ‘aid worker’ surveys so far.  Female Filipino aid workers comprised 64% of that sample, and in the ‘mostly expat” survey (with over 1000 respondents) 71% were female.  One obvious question that merits further research is why do females more than males grant the trust and then put forth the effort to respond to survey requests. I asked, “To what extent has your gender impacted your humanitarian aid work experience?”  As with every other question on this survey, the responses below must be interpreted with extreme caution. That said, these results are not what I would have expected. Percentage-wise, males and females had…

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Jordanian voices on relationship between ‘international’ and ‘national’ staff, Part III

Posted on: May 21, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

“The difference between the salary scales for Jordanians and expats is MASSIVE, not to mention the benefits. Expats get -in addition to their basic salaries, which is at least double if not triple what a national would receive- living expenses, transportation compensation -even though most of them live within walking distance of the organization and it’s the nationals who live far from the office- they also have their rent partly covered by the organization, and their utilities and bills paid. There definitely needs to be more of a fair treatment, specially if both employees hold the same position and the same tasks.” -female Jordanian aid worker speaking about compensation disparities Jordanian voices on relationship between ‘international’ and ‘national’ staff, Part III   Context In my previous two posts  (Part I and Part II) I have presented Jordanian voices on the relationship between ‘international’ and ‘national’ staff, and below extend this discussion…

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Jordanian voices on relationship between ‘international’ and ‘national’ staff, Part II

Posted on: May 19, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

Post updated 21 May 2018 with Jordanian-Filipino comparison data. “I would be surprised if any national believes that “expats” don’t see themselves as superior to nationals, regardless of the experience or the grade! NOT all internationals though are the same, some are very humble and natural. However, condescension is very prominent among international staff towards nationals, whether in subtle, patronizing behaviors or rude and explicit ones.” -veteran male aid worker Jordanian voices on relationship between ‘international’ and ‘national’ staff, Part II   Tell me how you really feel Part I in this series of posts explored the results from two questions probing the relationship between ‘international’ and ‘local’ aid workers.  A third survey question in this section regarding the relationship between international and ‘local’ staff asked, “Which comment best describes the way your international (أجانب غير العرب) colleagues interact with you?”  The categories offered forced respondents to characterize the power dynamics…

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Jordanian voices on the relationship between ‘international’ and ‘national’ staff, Part I

Posted on: May 18, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

“Many of my colleagues are non-Jordanians. We get a long very well and respect each other. However, in general, the international humnaitarian/development sector places ‘expats’ at the top of the top of the power heirarchy and values their knowledge most, harkening back to colonial times I find. Jordanian women are often least valued in the sector. It’s a very much neo-liberal sector that discourages fighting back and speaking up especially on the part of ‘national staff.’” -female Jordanian aid worker Jordanian voices on relationship between ‘international’ and ‘national’ staff, Part I ‘Localization’ within the sector Long before the WHS “Grand Bargain” in 2016 and in the years since there has been much conversation about ‘localization’ within the sector.  Any real change in how the sector operates necessarily involves shifts in the loci of power and, at the personnel level, changes to the relationships between ‘international’ and ‘local’ staff. I appreciate…

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Why are you a humanitarian (aid or development) worker?

Posted on: May 16, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Jordanian Aid Workers

“Probably the reason I stayed in the sector is because I wanted to perform my responsbility towards the marginalized and act as a counter-force to the corruption, mismanagement, and injustices I saw in the sector.” – Jordanian female aid worker employed by a large INGO     Why are you a humanitarian (aid or development) worker? Even a casual read of the large body of ‘tell all’ or memoir books by current or former aid workers leads to an obvious common denominator.  Virtually all of these works address the question, “why I got into this field in the first place.” In the social sciences, answers to most ‘why’ questions are generally complicated and demonstratively non-binary.  For most ‘why’ questions there is typically a hierarchy of answers, some more important than the others. When allowed the opportunity via open-ended comment boxes, respondents will, in various phrasings, say that their reason for…

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Global citizens, stigmas, and America

Posted on: May 14, 2018 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: General posts on the humanitarian aid industry

Some PSAs produced by my students As an academic working on the margins of the humanitarian aid and development ecosystem, I am fortunate to be able to teach classes at my university that address global issues. As an end of semester service project assignment, I had my students create PSAs related to issues we discussed.  In preparation we spent time watching many PSAs, some we winced at, some we learned from, others just made us laugh.  The Radiaid.org site was very helpful, as was our close reading of That the World May Know by James Dawes. Below is a sample from my class. Please email me with any comment or feedback for the students and I will pass it on. This first one is a critique of my university’s study abroad programs and our rhetoric of ‘global citizenship.’ The creators noted Our PSA confronts how the term “global citizen” is often…

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