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How many people to implement a gender equity plan – at least five people

December 20, 2022
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This year, I fear reading the newly released WGEA Scorecard 2022: The State of Gender Equality in Australia.  I have read each of these reports for eight or nine years in a row – they are very informative, and are usually at the top of my reading list for the year.

The reason I fear opening this document is fairly simple – by now, I think I can fairly accurately predict what I’m going to read.  After such a life-changing past three years, are we snapping back to the old ways of things, or snapping out of them?  We are always asking – what can we do to move the dial?

I heard some radio interviews this morning – you know the type, with people with little to no experience, asking the same very simplistic questions yearly of highly experienced and knowledgeable experts.  The expert then has the dubious honour of being afforded the opportunity to justify their professional existence, against the constant “… But what ifs?”

What about merit?  What’s a pay gap?  Why targets, why quotas? And the ubiquitous business case takes precedence – can you explain the business case for…?

Then, inevitably, the usual suspects call into the radio program – they do know how to appeal to a certain audience base – and the discussion is derailed and the work is diminished with sweeping, ill-informed statements, and the world keeps turning.  What is the point, though?

How do we shake things up?

I’ve said many times before, if we are looking to cure something that is so costly to society – for example, cancer – then we establish large research teams.  These experts work around the clock to find a solution.  It should follow that if we have a pay gap ~23%, and gender inequality is costing the economy billions of dollars, then why are so many organisations not investing with the urgency and intensity that the moment calls for?

There could be so many new jobs created, and we solve a huge problem – why then are we putting this off?

Based on my recent experience co-designing a number of gender equity action plans in the Victorian Public Sector, I have developed a resourcing plan (case study) that estimates how many specialist staff would be required to implement an effective gender equity action plan for a medium to large organisation (approximately 1000-5000 employees).

I estimate a minimum of five specialist staff are required for a task of this significance.  For the top performers in gender equity, or diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work, this is no surprise.  The Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector Victoria (CGEPS) is onto something, when they ask organisation to write an implementation and resourcing plan in their gender equality action plans – this means, to specifically state not only their goals, but the steps they intend to take to get there.  That means roughly 300 organisations must have this detailed understanding of their own plans.

Below, I have written a proposed resourcing plan.  I have also detailed some of the typical duties for these five specialist practitioners – including one who has specialised diversity data literacy (including pay equity analysis).  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, and you may add more duties that apply to your own plans.  I have also suggested some additional costs – you get what you pay for, after all.

This news may either be sobering, or welcome news for those who are performing all these functions on their own – and this is only one area of the vast range of intersecting identities covered in DEI.  It is important for organisations to keep adding personnel if they intend to extend their DEI efforts beyond gender.  

For those who champion change, or are part of a coalition of change, then you are in the unique position to accelerate the rate of change to achieve gender equality, as you have discretion and autonomy and the capacity to make this your top priority for 2023 and beyond.

Over the years, I have met so many diversity, equity and inclusion practitioners working solo, or in pairs, in large organisations.  These individuals are charged with the responsibility to lead hundreds or even thousands of personnel in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic plans across multi-department businesses.  They are expected to deliver transformative outcomes.  

These people also carry what I call the baggage of expectation – having worked in an organisation that had 27 practitioners in their DEI Unit, I have seen incredible transformational change.  If you are wondering why your gender equity initiatives are stalling, then here is a list for you. 

Proposed Resourcing Plan – Case Study Example

High level experienced specialist – 1.0 FTE

  • Working with CEO and Executives to establish annual priority areas of work, including process around accountability and formal reporting of outcomes
  • Working with CEO and Executive to establish and agree to targets, including representation, pay gaps and culture surveys
  • Working with CEO and Executive to establish to monitor, prepare, analyse data and prepare reports
  • Working with CEO and Executive Champions and Sponsors to build their competency in gender equity (including narrative and rationale)
  • Coordination of the Diversity Council, including preparation of reports, progress, outcomes and implement any recommended actions
  • Coordination of the Gender Equity Working Group, including agenda, minutes and actions
  • Responding to and implementing initiatives from Board and Diversity Council
  • Preparing briefs, presentations and board and Council papers
  • Attending quarterly to Board and Council meetings
  • Preparation of annual gender equity performance reports
  • Regular progress report on gender equity action plan and coordination of actions
  • Benchmarking analysis against WGEA, Commission for Gender Equity in the Public Sector (CGEPS) and incorporating new actions
  • Conducting regular gender equity audits and culture survey reports (live dashboard or quarterly)  
  • Benchmarking gender equity actions with peak agencies

Experienced specialist role 1.0 FTE

  • Review of Human Resources policies and practices
  • Manager skill development in managing flexible working arrangements and workplace adjustments   
  • Development and implementation of contemporary and alternative recruitment practices
  • Embed equity principles (including achievement relative to opportunity) into promotion processes and upskilling hiring managers
  • Relationship building with professional associations and external networks
  • Coordination of succession planning activities
  • Maintenance of work experience, internships and graduate programs
  • Coordination of annual IWD event (and significant days)
  • Coordinate activities in gender equity that link to other DEI action plans
  • Developing content and co-ordination and monitoring of on-line sexual harassment and anti-discrimination training
  • Coordination of contact officers and inductions
  • Coordination of keeping in touch program
  • Coordination of Women in STEM or IT programs of work
  • Coordination of annual forums on gender equity on sexual harassment, cultural and psychological safety, biases, assumptions around job roles and intersectional inequity, racial equity, accessibility, ageism, inclusive language, respect at work, and utilize findings to inform future work

Diversity specialist 0.8 FTE

  • Working with data personnel to establish requirements, reporting templates and workflow process
  • Working with data personnel to establish process to build data collection capability
  • Analysis of all diversity data including pay equity analysis
  • Establishing longitudinal benchmark data
  • DEI survey design and delivery, including reporting outcomes   
  • Design of data literacy workshops
  • Delivery of Gender Impact Assessments program for the organisation
  • Embedding Gender Impact Assessments in programs, services and policies to the community

High level specialist – Project Based Work 1.0 FTE

  • Building understanding of intersectional inequity in gender equity work
  • Building understanding of TGDNB in gender equity work
  • Building understanding of ageism and disability in gender equity work
  • Building understanding of male engagement and resistance to gender equity work
  • Embedding intersectionality principles in every aspect of gender equity work
  • Menopause in employment
  • Eliminating gender based violence
  •  Implementing a Preventing and Responding to Respect at Work Strategy
  • Developing and implementing a Respect at Work or Sexual Harassment communication strategy
  • Project work – Research leading strategies based on best practice to advance the economic security of women
  • Project work – Flexible and Hybrid Working (including impacts or Covid)
  • Project work – Contemporary practices, including design principles, to address job segregation
  • Project work – Coordination of activities and programs to increase women here there is under-representation
  • Project Work – Review of processes and practices related to gender-specific issues including women’s health
  • Project Work – All infrastructure, facilities and equipment we are compliant and gender inclusive, audited annually, modified, monitored, reported and measured for effectiveness
  • Conduct areas of research in collaboration with the relevant Sector or Industry

Communication and Relationships 0.8 FTE

  • Maintaining community relationships
  • Events coordination for significant dates, including communication
  • Developing employee resources, information and promotional materials
  • Preparation of reports, fact sheets and marketing collateral
  • PD and advertising review with gender lens and social media management
  • Development of communications and promotional materials for Employee Value Proposition
  • Working with social procurement team to implement gender equity initiatives
  • Communication and workflow process to encourage sharing information and monitoring across the business

Operational Costs (If you want good things, you need to pay for them)

  • Cost to upgrade HR system (to allow live dashboard, integration and intersectional analysis)
  • Central Management Automated Complaints System
  • Resourcing of On-line training program and platform
  • Engaging subject matter experts for workshop delivery for family and domestic violence training, masculinity, etc
  • Coaching program for parents
  • Potential costs to upgrades to facilities 

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