Skip to main content

The Slack-tivism Debate

By: Laura Sywulak

Within the last five years, the use of social media as a tool for activism has exploded. Organizations are increasingly engaging with users online creating opportunities to reach large numbers of people who can donate money, sign petitions, write letters of support, and engage in other campaign activities with just a few clicks of the mouse. However, many consider these acts of online activism to be token displays of support that do more to make people feel good than to meaningfully further prosocial causes. It has added a major new element to the debate over “slacktivism”, defined as fairly effortless shows of support – typically public – that may make people feel like they are making a difference but don’t necessarily lead to much impact. Slacktivism includes activities like joining a cause’s Facebook group, wearing a specific color on a certain day, signing an online petition, or writing an email to a political representative. As organizations increasingly use social media as a campaign tool, the opportunities for slacktivism are seemingly endless. Critics of slacktivism worry that by engaging in these low-cost, low impact activities, people will feel they have done their part, discouraging them from engaging in more meaningful action.

There has been some initial research on whether this is true. In their paper, Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism?: The Effects of Moral Balancing and Consistency in Online Activism.”, Lee & Hsieh found that signing an online petition increased the likelihood of donating money, but not the amount and while engaging in slacktivism increased the likelihood of performing a congruent subsequent civic action, the effect is limited to actions that are also relatively low-cost. Signing a petition did not increase or decrease participants’ intentions to participate in subsequent high cost actions such as attending protests; it only increased intentions to sign future petitions and write letters.

Another concern is that groups that have many followers or members may suffer from a donation ‘bystander effect’ wherein members do not donate based on the assumption that others will. Kevin Lewis, professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego, and two other researchers, analyzed the recruitment and donation activity of the “Save Darfur” Facebook page at the height of its campaign. Analyzing donation data over a a 2.5 year period showed that even though the group had over 1 million members, 99.7 percent never donated anything. The researchers concluded that signing up for the group may have offered enough in terms of reputational benefits that members did not feel compelled to take further action. That said the campaign still raised over $90,000.

So when does slacktivism lead to activism? Reseach by Kristofferson, White and Peloza (2014) used a series of field and laboratory experiments to understand when those who engage in slacktivism engage more deeply. They found the determining factor to be the extent to which a slacktivist’s activism is public or private. Those whose initial act of support is done more privately (for example, writing to a member of Congress) are more likely to engage in deeper, more costly forms of engagement later on. Those whose initial support is public (i.e. posting to Facebook or Twitter) are less likely to engage more deeply. Moreover, the researchers find that most appeals for token engagement “promote slacktivism among all but those highly connected to the cause.”

But how do online slacktivists compare to those who don’t engage in online activism at all? In a report by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Worldwide researchers surveyed and compared social media activists to people who do not promote causes via social media. They found slacktivists are just as likely to donate money and more likely to volunteer their time compared to those who do not even engage in online forms of slacktivism. These data suggest slacktivists are willing to engage in more impactful activism and provide an argument against the point that slacktivism discourages more effortful acts of support.

Social media inarguably provides a broad range of new options for promoting and supporting causes. And while some initial data seems to indicate that slacktivism does not often lead to more impactful activist activities, it doesn’t seem to hurt and it’s better than doing nothing.

What do you think about the slacktivism debate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @gohwp #slacktivism

UN Women: HR Recruitment Consultant

New York, NY

Company Location

Job description

BackgroundUN Women, grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; the empowerment of women; and the achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.Duties and ResponsibilitiesHR Consultant Will Be Providing The Following Services

  • Provision of support to the review of job descriptions and post establishment process;
  • Provision of support to the recruitment and selection processes including preparation of vacancy announcements, screening candidates, coordination and chairing of panel interviews;
  • Provision of guidance to hiring managers on recruitment processes;
  • Preparation of interview panel summary reports and documentation for submission to review bodies;
  • Conduct reference checks and other assessment tools to assist in the selection of candidates;
  • Preparation of necessary statistics and/or analysis and other briefs for senior management;
  • Coordination and collaboration with HR Specialists on recruitment activities;
  • Maintenance of recruitment related data for management planning;
  • Contribute to the review of recruitment and staffing policies, procedures, methods, tools and associated systems to ensure its applicability and efficacy in operational management.


Core Values

  • Respect for Diversity;
  • Integrity;
  • Professionalism.

Core Competencies

  • Awareness and Sensitivity Regarding Gender Issues;
  • Accountability;
  • Creative Problem Solving;
  • Effective Communication;
  • Inclusive Collaboration;
  • Stakeholder Engagement;
  • Leading by Example.

Please visit this link for more information on UN Women’s Core Values and Competencies: // Skills and Experience

  • Masters degree or equivalent in social sciences, psychology, business, human resources management, or related field.


  • At least 5 years of experience in the area of human resources, including experience in the area of recruitment for international organizations;
  • Knowledge of the United Nations policies, procedures and practices, particularly those related to human resources and operations;
  • Ability to work in a multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity, including gender balance;
  • A high sense of confidentiality, diplomacy and urgency is required.


  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are required;
  • Knowledge of another UN language would be an asset.


  • All applications must include (as an attachment) the completed UN Women Personal History form (P-11) which can be downloaded from //;.
  • Kindly note that the system will only allow one attachment. Applications without the completed UN Women P-11 form will be treated as incomplete and will not be considered for further assessment.

NoteIn July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The creation of UN Women came about as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system (DAW, OSAGI, INSTRAW and UNIFEM), which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Seniority Level



  • Nonprofit Organization Management
  • Government Administration
  • Financial Services

Employment Type


Job Functions

  • Human Resources

Chief Research & Policy Office

Innovations for Poverty Action – New York, NY

IPA seeks an outstanding applicant for the position of Chief Research and Policy Officer (CRPO). The ideal candidates will have notable accomplishments in either international development research or promoting evidence-informed policy and programs. The CRPO position is an exciting new leadership role at IPA that reports to the Executive Director and serves as a member of IPA’s Senior Management Team. S/he will be responsible for developing and leading IPA’s strategy to ensure relevant evidence is developed for and used by decision-makers and that IPA’s voice continues to lead the fields of both rigorous impact evaluation and informing policy to improve opportunities for the world’s poor.

The CRPO will oversee a team of senior research and policy staff leading IPA’s policy outreach and communications, Sector Programs, the development of policy relevant research agendas and replications, and new activities that further IPA’s goals to promote evidence. S/he will also work with IPA’s regional and country leadership to develop policy-relevant research agendas and strategies to influence practice and policy at the country level. As part of the Senior Management Team, the CRPO will participate in setting overall directions for the organization, and work to continuously build internal and external understanding of and support for IPA’s mission.

Lead the development and implementation of IPA’s strategy to translate evidence into practice and policy 

  • Lead the development and communication of IPA’s global strategy to ensure that evidence is sought and applied at scale by decision-makers (including practitioners, policymakers and funders).
  • Advise IPA Sector and Country Programs on the development of consistent research-to-policy and practice strategies, and support them as needed in developing high level partnerships with governments and other organizations that have the potential to adopt and scale effective ideas.
  • Work cross-functionally to develop organizational practices, staffing structures and systems that facilitate the delivery of research to policy initiatives and lessons sharing across the organization.
  • Oversee and provide leadership to policy outreach & communications functions at the global, sector and country level to ensure a consistent approach to the dissemination of evidence and that IPA’s voice and brand continues to lead the field of rigorous evaluation and policy translation.
  • Work with IPA’s large network of leading researchers to leverage their expertise and research studies to inform global policy conversations on international development and aid.
  • Work with Sector and Country programs and IPA’s research network to identify and prioritize demonstrated solutions for IPA to promote at a global level, and to develop strategies and partnerships to get these ideas disseminated, adopted and scaled.

Oversee the development of sector expertise at IPA and of policy-relevant research agendas aimed at developing ideas along the path-to-scale 

  • Oversee and grow a team of internal IPA Researchers with the goal of moving evidence along the path to scale by developing studies that replicate and expand on demonstrated and promising ideas.
  • Oversee IPA’s existing Sector Programs (Financial Inclusion, SME, Social Protection) and grow IPA’s expertise in other Sectors through the coordination and leveraging of IPA’s research network and Sector Working Groups (Agriculture, Education, Governance and Health) and by building relationships with subject matter experts as needed.
  • Work with Sector Programs, IPA Researchers and IPA research network to identify and develop strategies to address policy relevant research gaps at the global level, and advise country leadership on the development of research focuses and agendas at the country level.
  • Expand and represent IPA’s role in raising the standards of evidence and in translating evidence into policy & implementation
  • Provide leadership to position IPA in our next phase of growth and represent IPA externally, ensuring that we are leaders in the experimental research methods field and evidence-to-policy conversation.
  • Working with the lead IPA Researcher, promote IPA’s data transparency and data publication initiatives.
  • In close collaboration with the Global Programs team, identify and lead the development of potential new initiatives that further IPA’s mission to promote the use of evidence for decision making, such as the Goldilocks Initiative to build right-fit M&E systems or the Progress out of Poverty Initiative (PPI).
  • Support or lead the fundraising for expanding IPA’s leadership role in the experimental research field, for policy outreach or Sector program grants, including identifying and liaising with donors and contributing to proposal development, as needed.

Leadership and Management 

  • Oversee and mentor three Sector Program Directors (Financial Inclusion, SME, Social Protection), one IPA Researcher, the Associate Director for Policy Outreach and Communications, and the PPI Director, and recruit new staff as needed to expand IPA’s strategic goals.
  • Support direct reports and their teams with strategy development, goal setting, fund raising, policy engagement activities, partner and researcher relationships.
  • Contribute to setting the overall direction for the organization as a member of the Senior Management Team.
  • Ensure close coordination with the Global Programs team to ensure organizational sharing and learning, the development of consistent strategies and messages.
  • Prepare materials for and participate in Board meetings as necessary.


  • 15+ years of work experience in the field(s) of international research and policy
  • Masters in economics, public policy, or related field required
  • Noted contributions in social science research and/or international practice and policy required
  • Strong understanding of randomized trials and experience in multiple sectors is strongly preferred
  • Exceptional ability to present complex information in clear simple language to a range of audiences and to effectively translate academic research into clear policy lessons
  • Experience in and comfort interacting with very high-level contacts in public policy, for example senior functionaries in developing country governments, NGOs, foundations, and multilateral aid agencies
  • Experience working directly for a government or implementing large scale, complex programs preferred.
  • Flexible, self-motivated, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, collaborative team player
  • Experience, comfort and expertise in public speaking to a variety of stakeholders, at various conferences and other public commitments
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrated management experience and leadership skills. Experience working in a Senior Leadership Team is a plus.
  • Experience working in one or more of the developing countries where IPA has country offices would be a plus
  • Experience in securing large grants and fund raising preferred
  • Travel 25% of time

Application Instructions
To apply click here .

An introduction to Project FAIR

What is Project FAIR and where did it come from?

by Ishbel McWha-Hermann

GOHWP board member Morrie Mullins approached me after the recent SIOP conference in Orlando to see if I would be interested in sharing some details of Project FAIR with the GOHWP membership, as an example of an HWP-related study that is being undertaken. FAIR stands for Fairness in Aid Remuneration and the project explores the ways international NGOs are structuring their reward systems in an effort to balance the desire to reward local and expatriate employees equitably with the need to attract and retain skilled employees.

The project developed from previous research which looked at the impact of dual salary systems (where national and international workers receive vastly different reward packages) on motivation and performance of both groups of employees. The previous study was carried out across six lower and middle-income countries, and the results largely suggested that disparities in pay and benefits had a negative impact on employees, particularly local employees who tend to receive much smaller packages (see Carr, McWha, MacLachlan & Furnham, 2010, for more details). In 2014 we held a workshop in London to share the results of the project with HR and reward managers from many international NGOs, and overwhelmingly they agreed that the results made intuitive sense, but what they wanted to know was what they should do to address them. Project FAIR was a first step along the path to helping figure out the answer to that question. We interviewed 18 HR and reward managers from 13 international NGOs of varying size and scope, and developed some insights into the different approaches to reward that are being undertaken, as organisations try to find ways to make their reward systems fairer. A full report on the project findings is available on the website

Project FAIR speaks to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular it clearly links to SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), which includes the sub-goal of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’. The momentum behind Project FAIR reflects the current situation in which many international NGOs (as well as other actors within the aid and development sector more broadly) recognise that while they are clearly promoting the SDGs externally through their projects and activities, they also need to look internally to their own policies and practices to ensure they are meeting the SDGs in the ways they operate. Project FAIR is just one example of the great potential I-O psychologists have to contribute to many of the SDGs through the work that we do, be it looking at fair working conditions, equality and inclusion, wellbeing, gender, justice, or much more.

Project FAIR is an ESRC-funded international collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, CHS Alliance, Birches Group and Massey University.