Jen assists organisations to build a strategic approach to gender change, combining a 'doing the right thing' approach with a focus on the business case. For Universities embarking on Athena SWAN this requires linking excellence with diversity and inclusion.
Why gender strategy?
The human rights or 'doing the right thing' approach to gender equality has failed to translate into real gains. However the business case is strengthening and providing new impetus. Aligning equity and inclusion with the core business of organisations requires new ways of thinking, new skills, new leadership and new approaches. A strategic approach to building more gender equitable organisations is now required and this is key to Jen's consulting approach.
It has been widely acknowledged that Australian organisations were making glacial progress at best in increasing the participation of women in senior leadership positions and on Boards, and in closing the gender pay gap. This applied across all sectors although the spotlight has consistently been thrown onto the corporate top 200 companies, through the biennial and well publicised ASX 200 Women in Leadership Census. Despite a strengthening business case, according to the Male Champions for Change group assembled by the Elisabeth Broderick the previous Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian organisations were not yet reaping the gender diversity dividend. It is the need for organisational culture change that has proven difficult and elusive.
Progress over the last few years has been enormously encouraging, with increased public awareness and scrutiny, accompanied by renewed commitment and work within organisations. This has recently extended to the higher education sector with the introduction of Athena SWAN (focussing on gender in STEMM) and links strongly to the innovation agenda.
Key design parameters for culture change
When building a culture change initiative, Jen’s approach assists organisations to address the key issues and potential stumbling blocks identified in the organisational change literature and in her doctoral research. Gender change initiatives need to be long-term and sustained, and have shown themselves to be vulnerable to changes in short-term priorities, cost-cutting measures or changes in key personnel. Careful consideration must be given to ensuring:
- A clearly articulated rationale and link to the organisational business.
- Consistent, visible, and active support from Executive level. Championing of initiatives must come from this level and preferably involve both senior men and women. (read more)
- Engagement with men and women at all levels of the organisation. (Partners for change) A broad and diverse range of staff is strongly preferable. (see below for examples of gender capacity building) A particular focus on middle managers is necessary as their engagement or otherwise can make or break the initiative. (leadership development)
- Any gender specific activities must be linked to the broader organisational change agenda, and not be stand alone. (leadership development for women, mentoring and sponsorship)
- Leadership accountability, similar to accountability for other initiatives such as OH&S is essential.
- A continuous improvement approach with investigation, monitoring and review process to fine-tune and inform interventions and approaches (research and evaluation)
Gender strategy capacity building
The 'bifocal approach' links individual development to organisational change. Jen maintains a strong focus on building the capacity of individuals to understand gender processes and inequalities, and develop their capacity to build and lead more gender equitable organisations. Various audiences include Heads of Department, Leadership teams, HR teams, Senior women, women in STEMM, women in Engineering. Examples of her work are listed below.
|Institution||Target Group||Formot & Duration||Title|
|University of Western Australia||HR manager, all section of HR||Half day workshop||A strategic approach to gender in HR|
|Ocford University, UK||Department Heads & Committee chairs, Athena SWAN initiatives for women in STEMM||Presentation followed by half day workshop||Frameworks for change|
|Durham University, UK||Leaders, including Heads, Directors||Half day workshop||A strategic conversation: Frameworks for change|
|University of Western Australia||Mid-Level to senior male & female staff interested in working for gender equality in their workplace||Full day work shop, Delivered with male co-facilitator||Partners for Change|
|Auckland University of Technology||Open||Presentation of research||'Some things change some stay the same': Gender change processes in a STEM Faculty|
All the people I spoke with recommended Jen, and they were right. Read More
- Professor Marilys Guillemin
The University of Melbourne
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