International Red Cross Case Study

Change-makers in focus

International Committee of the Red Cross

How we help:

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) partnered with Hult EF Corporate Education to co-develop a three-module transformational leadership program for the world’s future change-makers that promotes diversity and inclusion, delivered virtually in various locations worldwide.

International Red Cross Case Study

Underpinning humanitarian efforts with a transformative and inclusive leadership culture

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the ICRC is an independent, neutral organization that helps people affected by conflict and armed violence, and promotes the laws that protect victims of war. The ICRC employs over 20,000 people in more than 80 countries. Since 2014, the ICRC has partnered with Hult EF to run the Humanitarian Leadership & Management School (HLMS) which builds authentic leadership at all levels by contributing a transformative and inclusive leadership culture to encourage diverse collaboration.

International Red Cross Case Study quote
“Today’s world needs empowering leaders, who inspire collaboration, resilience, and psychological safety in any situation. With Hult EF, we achieved significant, award-winning impact across thousands of ICRC leaders.”

Sally Al-Nakshbandi, Head of ICRC Leadership Program

The Challenge

With years of transformation, the rapid evolution of conflict and humanitarian work, and the challenges facing a large, diverse organization, the ICRC needed support to increase engagement at a local level and provide visible development pathways for all employees to grow.

The ICRC wanted to prevent knowledge, communication, and expertise from being constrained in geographical and hierarchical siloes. It looked to transform the organization by leveraging staff diversity to better deal with complex humanitarian challenges, without compromising its 150-year rich history and organizational vision. 

Diverse participants and a drive for cultural change call for an engaging and stimulating learning experience to ensure employees can be the change-makers of tomorrow.

The learning needed to apply to people of different educational, cultural, and technical backgrounds, and different seniority levels; it also had to align with internal and external transformations. Hult EF was chosen as a partner due to their focus on the human, interpersonal, and reflective approaches to learning, teaching, and research, which aligns with the ICRC vision and goals.

In this case study, we look at how the HLMS program has broken down geographical and hierarchical siloes to unite people through a common leadership language, leading to wider organizational transformation in the ICRC.

The Solution

This three-module program aimed to develop strong and passionate leaders who manage, empower, and inspire a diverse and high-performance workforce. Participants need to complete all three modules, regardless of their experience or seniority, setting the perfect example for decentralized and effective leadership.

Pre-COVID, teaching was delivered in Kenya, Jordan, Thailand, Senegal, and Switzerland. Post-pandemic, the program has successfully transitioned online to become a truly global, blended program, with a positive virtual experience reported by participants.

Each module consists of separate phases, including:

  • Distance learning – 20 hours of reading, assessed e-learning, and coaching

  • Face-to-face – A five-day program of experiential learning, exchange, and reflection

  • Action Learning Sets – conducted during the face-to-face week, participants work in smaller groups to discuss challenges and go through a peer coaching process

  • Work-based Learning – 30 hours of applying the learned skills in a workplace setting

International Red Cross Case Study industry

Breaking silos to unite people through a common leadership language

Our impact

The program has broken down silos and enabled more effective and varied collaboration. It has united people through a common leadership language, attitudes, behaviors, and mindset, as well as supplying transformative tools and practices. It has created a more diverse network of leaders across the organization, successfully driving wider organizational transformation. Taking part in the HLMS program is now an essential commitment for ICRC leaders and a requirement for all senior management positions, proving the importance of these teachings in shaping the leadership practices for the organization to create change for the future.

Observable behavioral change

On completion, 86% of HLMS participants report effective collaboration and 87% report improved emotional intelligence for better leadership.

Real cultural transformation

The HLMS design has informed a new Leadership and Management Framework adopted by the ICRC to guide organizational transformation.

Learning community for leaders

Participants feel the program creates a space for leaders to network and connect through a unified leadership language.

Observable behavioral change

On completion, 86% of HLMS participants report effective collaboration and 87% report improved emotional intelligence for better leadership.

Learning community for leaders

Participants feel the program creates a space for leaders to network and connect through a unified leadership language.

Real cultural transformation

The HLMS design has informed a new Leadership and Management Framework adopted by the ICRC to guide organizational transformation.

BNP Paribas Fortis case study quote
"I feel there has been an impact on the ICRC leadership culture and this is reflected in the staff barometer data that came out, where we realized that people who have done the HLMS modules are more positively assessed by their teams."

Balthasar Staehelin, Former Deputy Director General

See our work in action

We have helped more than 3,000 organizations, from large multinational companies, to governments, to public sector businesses, to charities. Our capacity to deliver customized programs at scale makes us the provider of choice for global businesses and governments.

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