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How we are organised

In 2016 Hivos took further steps towards making its internal organisation and operational processes fit for purpose. Changing from a re-granting organisation into a more entrepreneurial driver of social change is a tremendous shift that requires time and attention. Operational excellence is our means and, though we are not there yet, we have made important progress in the past year. This is mainly thanks to our professional, dedicated, creative and above all passionate staff: the people unlimited who make Hivos.


Hivos’s governance is organised according to a two tier governance model, a structure that provides the necessary balance between flexibility, proper accounting and effective control systems. We have a set of internal and external checks and balances in place to safeguard this balance.

The Supervisory Council (SC) supervises the policy of the Executive Board (EB) and the general course of events of Hivos. It provides advice on and approves Hivos’ multi-annual strategy, guards the organisational continuity and is the employer of the members of the Executive Board.

The Executive Board – currently consisting of Executive Director Edwin Huizing and Director of Operations Sanne Nolst Trenité – is entrusted with the management of the organisation. Their respective duties and powers are detailed in the Board Regulations. The Executive Director is the chair of the Executive Board. The EB is supported by a Management Team that consists of Regional Directors, Programme Directors, and managers of the two support departments as well as advisors to the Board.

Hivos has several local entities; that is to say, it is registered in several countries as an organisation, with articles of association and a board. In 2016, nationals from South Africa, Zambia and Malawi started their work as members of the local Hivos board in their respective countries. Local board members are an expression of ownership and enable Hivos to become more firmly rooted in these countries. This increases sustainability as well as leading to more opportunities for effective stakeholder involvement and fundraising. In 2016 it was decided to split off the Hivos South Africa office into a fully independent organisation, and its name will change to Hlanganisa Institute for Development S.A.


We strongly believe in operating in the close vicinity of our partners (including civil society partners), beneficiaries and other stakeholders in the countries in which we work; we therefore have a decentralised structure. In 2016 most programmes were managed from our four regional hubs, located in Indonesia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Costa Rica. Given the current regional context, our programme in the Middle East and North Africa is still being managed from our Global Office in The Hague. In 2016 we also had national offices in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Timor-Leste and the Philippines. These offices implement and manage large-scale programmes, which are mainly financed by institutional donors. From Beirut, our liaison officer supports our programmes in the Middle East and North Africa.

Global Office

The two main programme departments in our Global Office are Open Society and Green Society. Open Society programmes are clustered around four focal areas: Freedom of Expression, Transparency & Accountability, Sexual Rights & Diversity, and Women’s Empowerment. The Green Society focal areas are Sustainable Food and Renewable Energy. Two departments support our organisation: Finance, Support & Control and Strategy, Communication & Innovation. In addition, we have an HR unit and an independent Senior Controller – these report directly to the Executive Board.

Our Global Office focuses on strategy and policy development, quality control, marketing and communications, and ICT. In 2016 we took important steps in the transition towards a more flexible organisation that is cost-sensitive, entrepreneurial and accountable. Financial management, quality procedures and risk management have been improved.


Hivos is dedicated to delivering high-quality services and to being transparent and accountable. In 2016 Hivos invested extensively in improving our operational excellence. We formulated quality objectives to further improve our project based working method. These objectives include conducting a convincing dialogue with stakeholders about substance and processes, and improving the reliability, availability, transparency and accountability of results. Additional quality objectives are: ensuring that financial partners and donors are satisfied; developing good relationships and positive reviews with donors and partners; maintaining a proper balance between direct and indirect cost; and achieving a high proposal success rate. To achieve these objectives, several actions have been initiated in 2016. An extensive course on the project management working method was developed and all staff followed it, in addition to a DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) training to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication. Hivos also improved its financial procedures, including the pipeline analysis and a rearranging the financial reporting system, in 2016.


External quality control

Externally, there are four control mechanisms in place to ensure that our work is of the highest quality. External auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) primarily judges the yearly quality of the financial management and reporting, but also takes into account the quality of the administrative structure. Hivos’s 2016 annual accounts were approved by PwC (see statement in the Annual Accounts chapter).

We choose to work with the ISO 9001 quality management system, which guarantees continuous self-reflection and improvement. LRQA carries out an annual review of Hivos’s compliance with the international ISO 9001 norm. This involves yearly audits at Global Office or one of our regional offices. In 2016 an audit was conducted at Global Office. The findings mainly highlighted issues in the light of the new ISO 9001:2015, such as further improvements required to the risk management system and the way Hivos conducts its annual review. Our ISO 9001:2008 certificate is valid until 14 September 2018; we are working towards compliance with the new ISO 9001:2015. The new elements in this updated norm are the introduction of a risk management system on both the institutional and project level, and an overview of stakeholder requirements and wishes.

Hivos also holds the Partos 9001 certificate, a sector-specific quality seal defined by Partos, the Dutch association of NGOs working in International Development. This certificate is valid until 14 September 2018. Hivos also signed the Partos code of conduct, a Dutch sector-specific quality norm based on ISO 9001.

The Dutch Central Bureau on Fundraising (CBF) checks Hivos’s compliance with the CBF norm for charities. The CBF promotes trustworthy fundraising and expenditures, and also sets fundraising cost norms. The Wijffels Code on good governance of Dutch charities is an integral part of the CBF certificate. In 2016 the CBF framework changed. In July 2016 a group of 350 leading charities, among them Hivos, were the first to receive the revised certificate. Hivos’ CBF certificate is valid until 1 May 2017.


HR focal points

In 2016 our HR unit focused on updating HR policies and co-operating with HR staff in the regional hubs, both of which aimed to render HR services more strategic and effective, thus contributing to the development of Hivos’s staff. The global HR team is working towards global alignment of the HR strategy and optimisation of the HR policies. The following HR policies were part of this international cooperation.

– Safety protocols (global sharing of information about travelling employees)
– Induction programme for new employees (optimising)
– Labour conditions and staff benefits
– Recruitment and employment of new staff
– Performance management

All teams received training in financial resilience, project management and team dynamics. The new performance management system – which puts more emphasis on agreeing and documenting expectations with regard to results, competencies and support needed by the manager – was assessed positively in our Staff Satisfaction Survey. This survey was part of a larger assessment on how staff looked back at Hivos’s transition. This evaluation ascertained that Hivos is on the right track, yet follow-up action is needed on some organisational design matters and working methods. These will be addressed in 2017.

Staff figures

In 2016, Hivos had a total of 384 employees (2015: 337), of whom 137 were based at the Global Office in The Hague (2015: 131) and 247 worked in the regions (2015: 206). The main reason for this significant increase is the expansion of Hivos’s activities, a more labour-intensive role in our programmes, and the associated hiring of programme staff.












Staff turnover was relatively high in 2016.This can largely be explained by the organisational changes of recent years. A number of employees left Hivos in 2016 as a result of the layoffs due to the 2014/2015 reorganisation. In addition, project staff employment now depends on the availability of funding. In 2016 a number of expiring contracts could not be extended due to funding uncertainty.

In 2017 Hivos will develop policies to increase the staff employability, in order to rebalance staff turnover, increase flexibility and create opportunities for the redeployment of staff between across different programmes.


Diversity and integrity

Hivos wants to make optimal use of the potential of people who can contribute to Hivos’s mission and objectives. We see diversity as an asset. Our diversity policy includes principles for diversity in ethnic background and in age, and for a balanced ratio of men and women in our Management Team.

At the Global Office in The Hague 69 percent of the employees are women. At Hivos Southeast Asia 40% of staff are male and in Southern Africa 61% are male. At Hivos Latin America the male to female ratio is 11:89. On our global management team women are the majority with 73 percent.

Of the Global Office Staff 23 percent have a non-Dutch background, and 4 percent of these are expatriates. 22 percent are under the age of 35, while 17 percent are over 55. The Supervisory Board consists of 6 men and 2 women, the Executive Board has a 50:50 procent male to female ratio.

In compliance with the Dutch law on the protection of personal information, Hivos does not document data on disabilities or sexual orientation. We wish to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities, so we have committed ourselves to improving these in 2017. From a global perspective Hivos has proven to provide a safe working environment for LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexed) people.
Within our Hivos HR policies we apply the humanist principles, and Hivos core values such as diversity.

We value equality – with room for individual differences – transparency and righteousness. We also value mutual responsibility, room for initiative and creativity, and clarity in rights and obligations. Our integrity policy, which was introduced at the end of 2016, is consistent with these principles.

Diversity is an explicit part of our recruitment policy. No one is excluded from the hiring process. At the same time, we appoint the most suitable candidates based on skills, experience and abilities.


Performance management and staff development

In 2016 the new performance management cycle started, placing more emphasis on a results-oriented way of working and professional development. The cycle includes discussions between employer and employee on the employee’s performance throughout the year, and a performance appraisal by the end of the year. It supports the professional development of our staff in line with both the organisation’s objectives and the employee’s ambitions. This new way of managing performance received has positive feedback from both employees and managers. It gives more clarity on job expectations and goals with respect to personal development of knowledge and skills.

To support staff development, according to the needs of the organisation as well as those of the employees, we organised several sessions at the global level, and employees also attended external training sessions. Some examples are:

• Project management Way of Working
• Writing winning proposals
• Financial model training
• Crisis management training
• High impact facilitation training

The professional development of our staff will continued in 2017. We will use performance management and talent development strategically to achieve the optimum match between our human resources needs and the qualities and competencies of our staff. As stated above the employability of the staff will be another key focus.


HR Highlights in the offices

Besides the global HR strategy, a few highlights are interesting to report on the different offices. New country offices were opened in Kampala (Uganda) Sumba (West and East) and in Manila (the Philippines). The Hivos office in Costa Rica welcomed 10 new staff members, in Southern Africa 15 new staff members were added and Hivos East Africa counted 13 new members of staff. For a new project at the Sumba Iconic Island there has been a massive recruitment at our Southeast Asia office. At Hivos Latin America office, the Global Office and the Hivos East Africa office the induction and on-boarding process for new staff was updated and optimised.


Works Council

The Works Council at the Global Office viewed 2016 as a turbulent year, as strategic decisions made during the reorganisation were (and still are) being implemented in the organisation. The Works Council’s focus has been on how the follow-up of the transition process affected Global Office employees in their daily work. By carefully monitoring and addressing these changes, the Works Council represented Hivos employees as well as possible, despite some membership changes during the year. The Works Council regularly provided the Executive Board with advice to help them create a better working environment for all employees.
The Works Council believes that significant organisational changes should be in balance with a stable working environment for all employees. We will therefore continue to monitor and address these changes in 2017.

In 2016 the Works Council held five meetings with the Executive Board and organised two staff consultations. In January the Works Council discussed the transparency of decision-making within Hivos. In April Hivos employees were asked to discuss the question: “What makes Hivos a good employer?” Both consultations were quite well attended and the results were presented to the Executive Board.


Hivos wants to realise social and environmental impact, not only through its core activities but also through its own operations. To ensure this, Hivos has adopted a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, which includes concrete targets and internal measures. The policy is in line with our mission and vision and embodies the Hivos values, with key elements being integrity, diversity and equality, good employment practices, and environmental stewardship. The policy document sets goals and Key Performance Indicators for all Hivos offices and staff. It also covers CSR issues in our interactions with partners, donors, suppliers and private companies. Our CSR policy can be found on our website.

In 2016 we improved our environmental performance mainly through sustainable purchasing, which covers both sustainable products and sustainable suppliers. We chose an eco-supermarket as our food supplier for the Global Office, and we selected a new travel agency using criteria such as ISO 14001 and our aim to reduce our CO₂ emissions. In 2016 we started a full supplier scan to look for areas where we can further improve our sustainability performance. The results will be available in 2017. The Hivos-wide procurement procedure will also be adapted in 2017 to ensure sustainable purchasing where possible.


CO₂ Compensation

Due to our new focus on innovation for social change and the new, more proactive roles that Hivos is increasingly taking on programmes and projects, the number of flights has increased, despite reduction measures such as videoconferencing and instructions for rail travel within Europe. Hivos staff travel by air to partner organisations, projects and programmes and between the different regional hubs, and for essential in-person meetings. Not all of these flights can be replaced by videoconferencing, but Hivos policy is to keep stimulating staff to plan flights carefully.

Hivos decided to add compensation for other greenhouse gases to its existing CO₂ emissions compensations, enabling Hivos to become a climate-neutral organisation. Hivos compensates through its own biogas programme in Cambodia which is registered under the Gold Standard. This programme ensures a reduction in both deforestation and air pollution from cooking with wood. Not only does this help to mitigate climate impact, it also helps to improve the lives of Cambodians.





The total CO₂ emissions has increased slightly in 2016. There has been a decrease in flights in the Southeast Asia and Southern Africa hubs due to changes in project portfolios. At the Latin America office flights have increased due to an increase in the total office staff, and at the Global Office flights increased by a minor increase of 10%.

Some of our environmental measures are:
• Duty trips are planned carefully, a videoconferencing system replaces a number of flights, and rail travel is strongly recommended for duty trips within Europe.
Organic and fair trade products are used as much as possible for staff lunches at the offices, coffee and tea is fair and green, paper coffee cups are reused and recycled.
• Floor coverings are green and fair.
• Waste paper, batteries, printer cartridges, old computers and office furniture are sent for recycling wherever possible.
• Certified paper with an eco-label is used for copying and printing.
• Offices are cleaned with organically degradable products.
• Where possible, Hivos has installed water-saving toilets, water leakage sensors, energy-efficient lighting and motion sensors.
• The Hivos Global Office uses green electricity and gas, and the Regional Office in Zimbabwe partly runs on solar energy.
• All Hivos online channels are hosted green and comply with the requirements of


Hivos staff and partners are increasingly confronted with safety and security issues, as are Hivos programme implementations. Hivos’s choice to address controversial political and societal topics, to seek co-operation with outspoken partners, and to work in countries with civil, political or social tensions all increase the security risks for Hivos staff and partners. Hivos looks at risks, safety and security in a holistic way, including physical safety, personal wellbeing and digital security.

In 2016 the first steps were taken to overhaul the safety and security guideline in an integral approach. Time was allocated for two staff members to address this issue, and four consultants have been contracted to support Hivos in the renewal and upgrade of its security policy. This process will take up to two years. By the end of 2017 this must lead to an up-to-date security chain: prevention, preparation, mitigation and aftercare. The policy takes a dynamic approach, which enables us to cope with emerging situations and new challenges. All staff members who travel follow a practical security training course in order to be prepared for risky situations in the countries in which they work.