Case: Creating Connections Online – the CGIAR Gender and Diversity 2001 Online Event

Nancy White and Vicki Wilde
Posted August, 2002, with permission of the CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program

In the Spring of 2001, Full Circle Associates assisted the Gender and Diversity (G&D) program of the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International AgriculturalResearch) in producing an online event to further the G&D efforts within the organization. This was the first large-scale deployment of online conferencing for the group, so a “lessons learned” document was created to share the experience across the organization. In addition to the report, there were CD ROMs of the entire event created to both share the content that evolved over the event, and demonstrate how connections can be created across organizations scattered across the globe — and help create these connections online.

The full report in PDF format can be found here. Please note this is a very large file and may take a while to download. The executive summary is below.


The 16 Future Harvest Centers, through the CGIAR Gender and Diversity Program, are committed to building and supporting staff diversity, and creating international teams that work together to increase organizational impact. They recognize that staff diversity is key to good science, innovation and problem solving, and more likely to produce results that are relevant to their clients and partners.

Taking up the challenge, the Gender and Diversity Program (G&D) constantly looks for ways to help Centers use their rich diversity to increase research and management excellence. The goal is to find opportunities for dialogue and to share experiences so that staff members from all rungs of the organizational ladder and from different backgrounds and cultures can contribute their best. G&D also recognizes the importance of finding cost-effective ways to communicate and build together. It is both expensive and time consuming to bring representatives from 16 Centers together for meetings. That is why G&D decided to hold a meeting for Center directors general and their teams in cyberspace.

G&D launched Diversity in Action, its first online econference,from 23 April to 4 May 2001. ‘Meeting’ online provided the opportunity to create an in-depth dialog while respecting the time constraints of the Centers’ leadership and staff. Ninety participants from around the globe took part, logging on from as many as 20 countries. This is the behind-the-scenes story of the creation and execution of the Diversity in Action e-conference and the lessons learned.

My most important learning was that
there is no time like the present to tackle
issues of imbalances in gender and diversity
if institutions and we want to excel.
E-Con Participant

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