Nuts and Bolts: Making Sure Program Operations Integrate Gender Equality and Inclusion
Written by Tallulah Waterson
On 28 September, Cardno ID’s Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Community of Practice (COP) came together to discuss the topic ‘How do you mainstream GESI into your program’s operations?’ From recruitment, to workplace culture and procurement, this session explored how GESI can be integrated into operational aspects of program management. Paul Wright, Daniel Brown and Tanya Caulfield from the Indonesia-Australia Partnership for Infrastructure (KIAT), delivered a presentation following a gender diversity review KIAT undertook to look at these issues.
KIAT operates in the sectors of transport, water and sanitation, infrastructure funding and financing, and gender equality, social inclusion and civil society engagement (GESI-CSE). KIAT’s workforce at the time of the review was 38% female and 62% male. At the leadership level, the workforce was 32% female and 68% male.
The program completed a gender diversity review in April 2020, to identify opportunities to strengthen and support gender equity and diversity in KIAT’s operations. The review had two stages: a review of KIAT’s human resources (HR) and operational documents, and focus group discussions and individual interviews with staff. The topics discussed included procurement, recruitment, promotion opportunities, formal and informal staff roles and responsibilities in the program and in the office, organisational policies, and staff awareness of gender equality and diversity.
The review found that KIAT was largely successful at integrating gender in key organisational documents and processes, and had both men and women holding technical and support roles across different levels of the team. But the review also found that there were some gaps in key documents and processes that could be strengthened, such as improving staff understanding of KIAT policies and their obligations around gender equality, as well as ensuring that gender is integrated in all documentation including operations manuals and human resources templates, and advertising procurement opportunities more broadly so that women are aware of the opportunities.
A review implementation report was produced in February 2021: 14 out of the 15 recommendations from the report have been actioned, and one is ongoing.
One recommendation was to offer carer’s leave to Indonesian personnel, which can be used when children or relatives are unwell. Previously, staff taking leave to care for family members had to use annual leave, which impacted women more than men.
KIAT worked with Cardno ID HR to implement this recommendation, and Cardno ID released a Personal/Carer’s Leave Policy for Indonesia in early 2021. This policy now benefits all of Cardno ID’s locally engaged staff in Indonesia covering all program and corporate teams.
Another recommendation was to review and strengthen the Facility Operations Manual and relevant HR templates to integrate gender in all documentation and strengthen the integration of gender in recruitment and HR practices. This was implemented by including a gender-related responsibility in all Terms of Reference, including a gender-related question in all interviews, adding a requirement for selection panels to reflect a gender balance, and adding a requirement for consideration to be given to the gender balance of shortlisted candidates.
A recommendation relating to workplace culture was for men to be encouraged to participate in the running of social events to challenge stereotypes that perpetuate roles typically performed by women. As a result, KIAT has instituted an annual rotating responsibility for leading social events. Although constrained by COVID restrictions, male staff have joined the social club committee, helped organise online social events, helped establish a staff newsletter and continue to be part of arranging various all-staff activities including one associated with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
The way KIAT undertakes procurements has also shifted. In recent procurements, KIAT has introduced a performance incentive payment linked to contractors achieving GESI milestones / indicators during activity implementation. The milestone is nominated by tenderers in their proposals to demonstrate their understanding of GESI outcomes achievable in the activity and refined during contract negotiations. KIAT has also identified additional platforms to target women for recruitment, included a criterion on gender in all procurements, and a requirement for gender balance on procurement evaluation committees.
The KIAT experience shows that it is not just on the programming side where gender considerations must be considered and mainstreamed. Mainstreaming gender in program operations is crucial and can have significant equity impacts for program staff, subcontractors, partners and the culture of the program as a whole.
Cardno ID’s GESI Community of Practice brings together GESI and development practitioners from across 25 programs across the Asia-Pacific to share experiences, build networks and promote good practice.
For further information contact:
Head of Program Quality & Gender