PREPARATION FOR THE GENDER AUDIT

Prerequisites for success

The implementation of gender equality policies and processes means to bring changes in the organization policies and management practices and change is never easy, in any context.

It is not enough to prepare a good Gender Audit system and methodology, nor to prepare a well balanced Gender Equality Plan to reach gender equality. Academias are very structured organizations, often quite gerarchic and with long standing traditions and practices, used to tackle new issues and requests at high level of competence and autorevolezza. It is therefore very important to carefully plan communication and marketing strategies as it is necessary for any change management plan – adapted to this specific context.

There is an important work top managers have to plan and carry out since the start of the project – and during  the whole process – that greatly influences the success of the envisaged results that requires specific planning and strategic skills, like any other project.

Here the most important:

  • Top management and decision-makers support to the Gender Equality project, and its staff, in words, presence and actions: visible support to the project, presence at dedicated events; communication of what the project is about and why, the advantages for the organization (equality means quality and good international reputation); what the advantages for people (at personal level for intrinsic and extrinsic reasons);
  • Creation of an informal network of influencer and supporters at all levels, as well as a formal network of Delegates in all Departments;
  • Creation of a Work Team with mixed competence, position and autorevolezza. The skills needed are about: the integration of gender culture and practices in organizations (Gender Studies competence is something else), change management, events organization;
  • Direct link between the Work Team and Top decision-makers as they have to work in strict connections and agreement.
  • Recognition, visibility, rewards, acknowledgement given to people that are actively engaged in supporting gender equality and the Gender Audit
  • Active support from outside gender experts throughout the implementation process as Academia need expertise to put into daily practice ideas and goals.

To sum up, it is top managers and decision-makers task to create a critical mass of supporting people, of a wide and favourable atmosphere towards gender equality and diversity valorization, both necessary to overcome indifference and inertia, sometimes opposition and hostility, so widespread as regards equality issues.

Preparation of the Gender Audit

The Gender Audit has to be very carefully prepared in order to get the necessary information and actively involve internal stakeholders.

The Gender Audit has to be prepared and carried out by a dedicated Team, – whose members will be part of the Working Team – the Gender Audit Team (GAT).

These are the Gender Audit Team’s main tasks:

  1. To carry out the Gender Audit acting as Auditors – and therefore they have to be prepared to this specific task by means of a short specific training   on how to carry out an Audit and interview people or run a focus group. It is higly recommendable to have some coaching or technical assistance to lead this process in the organization.
  2. To create a network of Delegates – persons appointed in each Department to support the GAT members in carrying out the Gender Audit, a contact structure that can help to communicate and make contacts with the different Departments as regards the Audit management, for ex. the Department staff to be interviewed.

Some useful templates for this task:

The Gender Audit has to be participatory, this means that the GAT will create spaces to gather the interested people from the beginning of the process. These spaces can be, for example, seminars and workshops about the project aims, the Gender Audit aims and how it will be implemented.

Those meetings will be learning occasions for both organizers and participants: the GAT members will present new approaches and points of view to the participants and they will also learn about staff’s experiences, critical situations or even, possible solutions to overcome biases. Such meetings, aim at making all the participants of the Audit more aware of the state of art in terms of equality, favouring their involvement in the project. The organized seminars or workshops will also be an opportunity to compare and analyse together the organization’s situation.