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People and Systems Director


WITNESS is a global human rights organization, a collective of passionate human rights activists with team members worldwide. The mission of WITNESS is to help people use video and technology to protect and defend human rights. The organization is made up of a 40-person multi-disciplinary team with staff based across five continents. It is a global collective with mostly remote staff members and consultants, interns, fellows, and a vast community of partners and collaborators who reflect a group of activists with diverse skills and backgrounds. WITNESS is legally a non-profit that is registered as a 501(c)3 in the U.S. 

About the Role

WITNESS works in a rapidly changing global human rights, media and technology environment, where growing numbers of people stand up for human rights by turning to video and technology to fight for human rights and create change. 

WITNESS is looking for a People and Systems Director who can anticipate and meet this dynamic environment head-on. To lead on designing organizational infrastructures and systems that centre our people, enable our program strategies, and foster a thriving organizational culture to help grow their impact worldwide.

Purpose of the Role

The People and Systems Director will lead WITNESS to establish supportive and enabling practices, build a secure and adaptive global infrastructure, and design innovative systems and methods toward an inclusive organizational culture with equitable practices across our growing global organization.

WITNESS’ work is grounded in collaboration as well as innovative, future-forward systems thinking. The team begins their work by listening and anticipating their partners and communities’ needs and opportunities and considers how technology systems affect activists and value human rights. 

Therefore, listening and anticipating is also core to this role, which requires anticipating changes in the human rights landscape and translating these nimbly into supportive people practices and dynamic, secure operational structures.

Duties and Responsibilities

As part of the Senior  Leadership Team, the People and Systems Director will provide expert advice and input on various organizational issues, including change management. The position will report to the Executive Director and lead and supervise the following areas: Human Resources, Systems and IT and Knowledge Management and Culture and Diversity Equity, Inclusion. The People and Systems Director will work with and oversee a five to seven-member team of specialists and coordinate cohesive strategies across:

  • Human Resources, including global employment contract and legal compliance, compensation and benefits, complaints and grievances, policies, development and performance assessments, and related HR functions.
  • DEI & Culture, including developing People policies that provide a high level of support to team members, foster sustainable work practices, and practices/policies which are equitable across the various locations where our team members live.
  • Systems and IT, including information systems and databases, enable agile platforms to meet internal organizational effectiveness and serve WITNESS’s support of activist communities and its systems advocacy. 
  • Knowledge Management, including facilitating transparent flows of information, promoting learnings, designing intranets, information platforms, on-boarding tools, and communication channels that help us be a cohesive team.

Skills and Experience

  • 5-7+ years experience in a leadership role in People/Culture & Organizational Systems.
  • Experience leading DEI processes in global contexts and building and promoting DEI-centered culture and infrastructures.
  • Experience in people-centred operationalisation of global programs and with international teams.
  • Exposure to IT, knowledge management, employment compliance, security, compensation and benefits management.
  • A passionate people person with a proven ability to work across a global, diverse team.
  • An empathetic leader who actively seeks out and respects new perspectives, listens to diverse voices, and designs policies and practices considering a team with a wide range of lived experiences and contexts.  
  • High professionalism, self-motivation, efficiency, and results-oriented delivery on short timelines.
  • Strategic, creative, original and innovative thinking.
  • Sensitivity, kind, emotional maturity, and strong interpersonal skills
  • Strong teamwork skills, comfort in a highly collaborative team culture.
  • Strong project and staff management skills.
  • A track record of and motivation by global human rights values and driven to support social justice activists and movements.
  • Ability to adjust quickly to changing conditions and requirements
  • Understanding and ideally experience with human rights programs and dynamics.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English; additional languages are an asset.