‘Where are you now on the gender equality journey?’ Conducting a Diagnostic Review on the state of Gender Equality in your Organisation
One of the things we notice with many organisations starting out on the gender equality journey is the tendency to jump straight into implementing a series of gender equality related activities. These can often include women’s networks, informal mentoring, unconscious bias training, and a range of other initiatives.
While these may actually be great programs, what we observe is that they can often be disconnected from the business and HR strategy, they may not have the support from management, and they are may not be part of an overarching strategy aligned towards a more deliberate goal.
The risk of taking this programmatic approach is that there will be a lot of activity, but not a lot of impact. And after several years of undertaking such initiatives, people within the organisation start looking at these programs with a sense of gender fatigue and think or say ‘we’re spending all this money on gender or diversity programs and the numbers aren’t changing’.
What’s important in developing an aligned gender or diversity strategy is to more deeply understand what the key issues are in your organisation, what the broader strategic priorities are, what is the right prioritisation and sequencing for initiatives to be implemented, and in what timeframe.
A key input to being able to do this is undertaking a comprehensive diagnostic of the state of gender equality in the organsation. Even better is to engage your leaders, employees and stakeholders in this diagnostic process so that change management is incorporated from the start of the process, rather than people feeling like change is being done to them.
A gender equality diagnostic will typically cover the quantitative and qualitative aspects of:
Leadership commitment and role modelling
Gender strategy and business case
Leadership and management capability
Talent and pipeline management
Gender pay equity
Gender mainstreaming of operations
Gender aspects of supply chain and procurement
Gender measurement and reporting systems
Policies and procedures
Sex based discrimination and harassment
Culture and attitudes towards gender equality
You may also want to look at more advanced areas of gender equality such as dealing with diversity implications of restructuring and merger & acquisition activity, focusing on the lived experience of employees, progressing the innovation agenda through diversity, and diversity impacts of your core products and services on the broader community.
We believe that for a really deep understanding of what is really going on in your business, there is a need to go beyond quantitative data, policy reviews, and employee engagement surveys. A diagnostic should also include listening to individuals about their experience in the organisation – what is it really like to work in the organsation and what is the lived experience of gender equality? This can be done through focus groups, interviews, employee empathy mapping and design thinking sessions. This will give human-centred insight beyond the numbers.
By truly understanding the gender equality issues and opportunities that exist in your organsation, it will help you develop a much more tailored and aligned strategy that will have a more significant and lasting impact on the level of diversity and the benefits from diversity experienced by your organisation.
For more information, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency Strategy toolkit provides a good reference for conducting a gender equality diagnostic and the Employer of Choice for Gender Equality Criterion also provides a good roadmap/checklist of what should be looked at in your diagnostic. Check out www.wgea.gov.au
About The Agenda Agency
The Agenda Agency is a boutique consulting firm specialising in corporate and diversity strategy. If you'd like to discuss how we might be able to transform your workplace please contact us via https://theagendaagency.com/enquire/