BFP: What do you do?
KT: I am the Senior Private Sector Adviser at Christian Aid – my role consists of developing policy positions and advocating to companies and government on issues related to business and poverty. At the moment my business engagement is predominantly focused on our Tax and Climate Change/Sustainability campaigns.
At Christian Aid we believe that businesses, from the largest to the smallest have a crucial part to play in ending the scandal of poverty. We seek to partner with the private sector at a global and local level to develop more enlightened business practices and create fair and enterprising markets.
Part of my job is to challenge and expose the unjust structural rules and negative business practices that keep people poor – with the aim of maximising the positive contribution that business can make to poverty reduction. This is achieved through engaging with and working to influence companies’ policies and practices, and the regulatory environment within which business operates.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
KT: The best part of my job is working with colleagues, partners and business who are dedicated to challenging injustices and finding solutions which assist people who are living in poverty. I also love the diversity of my job – I am incredibly lucky that I am able to work on policy and advocacy related to tax, climate change, CSR and our enterprise-based development programmatic work.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
KT: Over the last couple of decades there has been unprecedented economic development across the globe which has exacerbated the scale and reach of poverty and subsequent inequality – I think that the biggest challenge for someone in my job is to convince and demonstrate to people that business and international development can be good bedfellows. Economic development and the motivations of business are not all for self-interest but there can be a constructive engagement which will result in a transformational set of outcomes for society. It is important in my job to continue challenging business and the regulators to create an environment where a positive impact is created.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges? What advice, would you give to others?
KT: I have a couple of pieces of advice – I consider that it is important to build relationships and forge constructive dialogue as well as being realistic on how long things take to happen. Building relationships is crucial in understanding everyone’s point of view – even if it is not your own. Each actor is facing different challenges and these conditions dictate their ability to act, so only through constructive dialogue can you start to address challenges, develop confidence and understand everyone’s point of view so that solutions can be found – this takes time.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
KT: It is important that you are very passionate about international development and want to challenge the structures that keep people poor. This job is very rewarding but it is going to be a long battle and so you must really want to undertake a career in this environment. I can only speak from my own experience but I would suggest that working in the private sector is a good idea alongside spending time in developing countries working on programmes or projects to show to show commitment. In addition I have a Master’s degree in International Public Policy from UCL so I would recommend an academic qualification with a development focus.
BFP: Finally, what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
KT: BFP is an amazing resource which enables me to meet like-minded people. It gives me the opportunity to attend events and learn from other people’s experiences. Alongside learning from others it is a really good forum to showcase your projects and for me to contribute expertise that Christian Aid has on international development.
Thank you to Katharine Teague for taking the time to do this interview.