Putting practice into policy

Agulhas has a deep commitment to continuous internal growth. It’s an inherent part of our culture, what we do, and is reflected in the ways we operate. Learning and growth forms part of our core principles, for example, in Equity; which states that ‘our approach will continuously evolve ‘ and Effectiveness; ‘we will continually look for ways to do better’. To achieve that, we realise it’s important to build a strong foundational framework that supports this culture and ensures its sustainability. That’s why we have embarked on a policy handbook refresh, putting ‘practice’ into our policies. But how did we do it, and what have we learned? Here are just some of the principles we have incorporated:

  1. Equitable foundations

Our journey as an employee-owned business has been crucial to empowering our team to drive change and suggest initiatives that matter to them. As we continue to grow into this new, equitable business model, our employees’ remit has expanded to have more say in our strategy, and the policies which underpin it. By taking a more collaborative approach, through our employee working groups and co-owners forum, our employees have the opportunity to suggest which policies would benefit them and the company, and how they might be reasonably and effectively implemented. Many of our policies now formally state that our co-owners forum will be consulted in how the company operates and evolves. Our certification as a B Corp in 2023 was a great example of an employee-driven initiative with far-reaching implications to encourage our future growth.

  1. Transparency

Our revised external policies and new commitments page have reaffirmed that Agulhas will continue to strive for the highest standards across a range of areas, including gender equality, youth engagement, mental health and environmental sustainability. While public commitments ensure openness (another of our principles), the B Corp framework and our annual Impact Report provides us with a tangible way to track progress, and ensure we are held accountable to independent organisations. As evaluators, this is something about which we inherently understand the value, and want to ensure we practice!

  1. Go beyond

Our revised, and new, internal policies don’t just cover the expected. In consultation with our employees through the co-owners forum, and with a view to meet or go beyond best practice wherever possible, our policy handbook covers areas that can be overlooked, as they are not underpinned by legal requirements. These areas of best practice include policies on menstrual and menopausal health, hybrid working, and positive mental health and wellbeing. The guidelines go beyond statutory requirements, and signal our intent to stay ahead of the curve. While we will continue along our path of constant evolution and learning, we believe that striving for better is the best policy when it comes to employees.


As an organisation accustomed to giving evidence-based policy recommendations, it feels right to practice what we preach, and in turn, to put what we practice into our policies. While we know that more can always be done, we hope that this process will enhance our organisation by giving our employees the support they need to do what they do best – tackling global challenges through applied knowledge.

Sign up to our bulletin

Sign up to our free weekly bulletin for the latest international development news and analysis