BRIDGE stands for Benchmarking Race, Inclusion, and Diversity in Global Engagement. It is an institutional survey, the first of its kind, to baseline diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the organizational level across US-based organizations in the international development and humanitarian sector. Read the 2021 BRIDGE Survey Results here.


The BRIDGE survey is the first sector-wide DEI baseline survey of US-based development and humanitarian organizations. It will provide a diversity snapshot of organizations’ staff, leadership and boards, as well as provide details on the types of strategies and approaches organizations are taking to improve DEI. While the industry’s DEI challenges span the globe, this survey focuses on US-based headquarters staff to both intentionally narrow the scope and acknowledge the complexity of looking at DEI in a global sense. We do expect this survey to serve as the first step to conducting DEI benchmarking throughout the sector. The survey is fully anonymous with no ability (even for the survey administrator) to attribute responses back to responding organizations. The top line data will be shared publicly, but survey participants will receive access to detailed survey results.

The BRIDGE survey was disseminated to nearly 400 organizations in March 2021, and the results will serve as a powerful tool for individual and collective action towards creating a more equitable industry. The survey remained open for approximately one month from the launch date.

There was no cost to participate in the survey.


For many organizations in the United States, attention to DEI increased exponentially after the brutal killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 and the massive racial justice mobilization that followed. In response, many organizations in the international development sector searched to find documented efforts at the sectoral level on the extent of the industry’s DEI challenges. What they found, however, was a startling gap in publicly available, sector-wide, data on diversity.

While a variety of actions are needed to meaningfully address the legacy of structural racism in our sector and the organizations within it, establishing baseline evidence is among the first steps needed.

Having this data will enable individual and collective action. Organizations will be able to compare their own data to the industry benchmark and identify areas where they need to focus their efforts. At the sectoral level, the data could point to gaps where joint action is required to achieve meaningful and lasting change. The data will also provide a basis for mutual accountability and ultimately contribute to changing the sector for the better.


The BRIDGE survey was designed by a coalition of organizations dedicated to meaningfully addressing the DEI challenges of the international development and humanitarian assistance sector.

In the early Fall of 2020, a small group of industry leaders set out to leverage the strengths of their own organizations to address the diversity data gap in the sector by launching an initiative to establish a DEI benchmarking survey. On a purely voluntary basis we brought together Social Impact a highly regarded measurement and evaluation company which is contributing its survey expertise, IREX a leading non-profit which brings its long history working to advance prosperous and inclusive communities worldwide, Humentum a global nonprofit providing community, learning and operational solutions to the humanitarian and development sector, and the WILD Network a global convener and knowledge management platform, to advance women’s leadership in the global development sector. This group was supported by InterAction and PSC/CIDC who helped to ensure broad dissemination of the survey. A working group of Humentum members also provided advice, guidance and DEI expertise to the initiative and particularly to the design of the survey questions with representatives from Dexis Consulting Group, National Endowment for Democracy, EGPAF, Solidarity Center, Orbis International, Social Impact, InterAction, and IREX.


Social Impact - Advancing Development Effectiveness
I.R.E.X. Logo
Humentum Logo
WILD Women Innovators and Leaders Network


InterAction A United Voice for Global Change logo
C.I.D.C. logo


Orbis Logo
National endowment for democracy, supporting freedom around the world
Solidarity Center logo
Dexis consulting group
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, fighting for an aids-free generation

The BRIDGE survey is now closed. Thank you to the organizations who participated. Be sure to check out this page for future updates on the survey’s findings.


Why did the BRIDGE Survey focus on US-based Humanitarian and International Development organizations?

The BRIDGE team is comprised of organizations working in the Humanitarian and International Development sectors in the United States. While we believe this benchmarking effort is needed and would be helpful on a global level, the team decided to start with a survey of US based organizations where the group had the greatest expertise.

Why did the BRIDGE Survey focus on data from US organization’s headquarters and not satellite/country offices?

A guiding principle of the BRIDGE working group was to “start small with big aims.” The group began by acknowledging the global nature of DEI challenges within the Humanitarian and International Development sectors, and the unique manifestation of these challenges that might vary from one office to the next or from one country to another. After much deliberation on the scope of the survey, the BRIDGE team decided to focus on headquarters as a first step while keeping open the option of a follow on survey of satellite/country offices at a later date. The team anticipated that the momentum gained from the first BRIDGE survey could help propel action around expanding the reach in future iterations.

What language(s) did the BRIDGE survey utilize?

The BRIDGE survey was completed by the headquarters of US-based organizations, and tailored by BRIDGE working group members with HR/DEI expertise to be most easily answerable by an organization’s HR team. The survey was provided in English, as it is the most commonly used language for an organization’s HR record-keeping purposes among US based organizations.

How did the BRIDGE team determine a need for this data?

A few efforts have been made recently in the industry to capture data and evidence related to DEI in the international development and humanitarian assistance sector. Efforts we have identified so far, include the following. We welcome the opportunity to learn from any other studies that we may not be aware of.

At the Institutional Level

  • Quantum Impact’s 2018 State of Diversity report. Among other things, this report looked at the diversity of leadership teams and boards of organizations in the sector using a content analysis approach that drew on publicly available data.
  • GAO’s report on Diversity at USAID (published June 2020), This study looked at diversity in the foreign service and civil service at USAID from 2002-2018.
  • Various reports published by Global Health 50-50 which focus primarily on gender equality in the health sector.
  • Spot polls conducted by Humentum.

At the Individual Level

  • The Racial Equity Index’s Global Mapping Survey of late 2020 (results forthcoming) which surveys individuals working in the international development sector globally. The stated goal of this survey is to produce “an index and advocacy tools that will provide greater accountability for racial equity within and across the global development sector in order to dismantle structural racism and create a more equitable system and culture with justice and dignity at its core”, and spot polls conducted by Humentum.

The BRIDGE survey differs from (but complements) these existing or emerging analyses in a variety of ways.

(a) It captures and aggregates institutional (i.e. organization level) metrics on diversity (including but not limited to gender, race, disability) at the staff, leadership and board levels. It also seeks to identify equity and inclusion strategies that organizations are utilizing to advance their DEI goals.

(b) It captures these data by using an anonymous survey that is filled out by one individual in the organization (typically a leader in the HR/People workstream) who would have knowledge of these metrics for their organization.

(c) It is not an organizational culture or engagement survey. As such it did not survey individuals to seek feedback on their experiences and perceptions.

Will the BRIDGE survey run again or be expanded?

Resource-permitting, the BRIDGE team hopes to implement additional versions of the BRIDGE survey, such as one that explores similar issues in satellites/country offices of Humanitarian and International Development organizations as well as repeating the baseline survey to track progress over time.


The BRIDGE survey, an institutional survey focused on developing a snapshot of diversity in US-based headquarters of international development and humanitarian assistance organizations, was conducted in Spring 2021. The survey examined four issues: workforce diversity at the staff, leadership, head of organization and board levels, transparency of diversity data, DEI policies and practices adopted by organizations and the extent and type of DEI investments that organizations have made.

The results from this survey can be a powerful force for change. We encourage you to explore the findings and utilize the data as a catalyst for positive action as individuals, organizations, and as an industry.

Read the BRIDGE 2021 Survey Results here.

Review the BRIDGE 2021 Key Findings Infographic here.

Workforce diversity graphic showing 84% of chief executives are white, they evenly split in gender but only 4% are B.I.P.O.C. women, and Latin X individuals are extremely underrepresented at all levels.