Program Officer at Open Society Foundations

The Human Rights Initiative works across issues and geographies to promote a comprehensive vision of human rights that recognizes that rights are not realized through law alone, that innovations in one field can unlock opportunities in others, and that experimentation and collaboration strengthen advocacy strategies. The Initiative capitalizes on opportunities, working in places where there are prospects to advance the rights framework, as well as those where challenges seem intractable. We support groups to engage deliberately in public discourse, recognizing that how people talk about rights is important to how those rights are realized. The Human Rights Initiative supports civil society groups to engage at the international, regional, and national levels through a combination of advocacy, monitoring, documentation, litigation, and campaigning to ensure that people can exercise their rights.

Job Profile

The Program Officer will be responsible for the development and implementation of grant-making strategies in the area of business and human rights for the Open Society Foundations’ Human Rights Initiative. Additional responsibilities include the following:

  • overall program development and implementation – develop a strategy and manage a grant-making portfolio for the Human Rights Initiative to support rights groups to explore how to engage with the private sector to advance and protect human rights, to develop new accountability mechanisms that reflect the operations of business actors, and to challenge rights violations that are the result of business activity and investments
  • program relations – support the growth and development of the Human Rights Initiative’s relationships with key actors in the business and human rights field, including leading advocates within the business and academic community as well as human rights activists, researchers, and donors. The program officer will also be responsible for identifying colleagues within the Open Society network and other partners that can deepen the impact of our grantees and enhance the work of the field.
  • program management - implement a grant-making strategy in close collaboration with Human Rights Initiative team members and other relevant Open Society Foundations staff to support the emerging field of activists working on business and human rights, including meeting with partners and other field actors to assess the field, developing grant-making recommendations to build a strategic grant-making portfolio, and supporting partners through operational work to advance their goals.
  • program monitoring and evaluation - ensure robust review of our current investments that looks at both the thematic and geographic distribution of our resources and support cross-program learning about business and human rights.
  • administration – assist in planning and developing annual budgets and ensure administrative systems appropriately document and report on our work


  • advanced degree in business or other relevant field and at least 7-10 years of relevant experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • demonstrated experience working with the private sector to advance human rights
  • flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects and ability to prioritize tasks
  • excellent team work skills, able to work effectively in highly collaborative environment and as a member of multiple teams
  • proficiency in English is required, with ability to work in other languages an advantage
  • experience working with both the private and non-profit sectors, with an ability to understand the range of perspectives of different stakeholders in the business and human rights field
  • understanding of the pressures, costs, trade-offs, and challenges that 21st century businesses, particularly multinationals, face in their decision-making
  • excellent writing skills
  • superb analytical, interpersonal, organizational and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences
  • diplomatic and problem-solving skills with a good sense of humor

Department: Human Rights Initiative

Location: Washington DC

Application Deadline: July 14, 2015