The Value of Being a Learning Organization

-Kate Bojin

Why does fostering an organization that is committed to learning and knowledge sharing matter in the field of gender-based violence? At White Ribbon we are continuously engaging diverse stakeholders, from 6th graders to community leaders, so that they can adopt healthy masculinities and ultimately inspire learning and change. Being committed to fostering internal knowledge sharing, best practice, and challenges enables us to be more effective facilitators with others in challenging their own belief systems and attitudes on gender.

As a lucky recipient of the Canadian Women’s Foundation scholarship, I was fortunate to attend a course on Learning Organizations and Change at the Coady Institute in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I was able to connect, challenge and find synergies with my peers from across the globe on what makes for a learning organization.

From my experience at the Coady Institute, I believe that learning organizations which are working towards social change and gender equality, can achieve the following:

Looking “outside” a learning organization can…
- Ensure relevant and inspirational programming as we learn from youth experiences       (across genders and identities) and lived realities of survivors.
- Contextualize and add value to our work in GBV prevention as we learn from local,        national and global women’s organizations
-  Broaden and deepen our understanding of gender-based violence by connecting           across social movements, including climate and social justice

Looking “inward” a learning organization can…
 –  Allow us to seamlessly share promising practices and put our heads together to             overcome challenges
-  Reduce duplication of efforts and look for ways to continuously innovate
 – Foster a deeper understanding of male engagement across the various spaces in          which we work- from the locker room to the classroom
- Challenge our own assumptions and bias of where men and boys are at in terms of         their own understanding of gender and being agents of change
-  Fuel our working relationships, leverage our assets, and identify skill gaps
 – Propel the organization in meeting its strategic priorities and outcomes
-  Innovate and create compelling resources to redress inequities and positively                  engage men and boys
 – Foster intersectionality in learning from survivors whom identify across the gender         spectrum, and across identities

Through team meetings, informal chats, lunch ‘n learns and sharing tools/resources, our team is dedicated to advancing the field of gender-based violence prevention. Fostering this kind of learning organization is a long-term and ongoing commitment- looking “in” and “out” continuously with openness and courage to change our minds.

How does your group or organization look “in” and “out”, and to what frequency?! Do you have ideas for fostering organizational learning in small non-profits? Share your thoughts on social with us!

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