Greater gender equality can contribute to tackle future challenges in societies: The demographic change in many European countries with an ageing society as well as long term financing of social security systems are related to gender equality.
Making an “Economic Case” for gender equality, Smith and Bettio (2008) show: it is possible to regard gender equality as “an investment, such that it can be regarded as a means to promote growth and employment rather than act as a cost or constraint.” (ibid. 2).
Gender equality also can tackle the challenges of demographic changes: Myrskylä and others (2011) analysing data from countries worldwide come to the conclusion that “gender equality is crucial for countries wishing to reap the fertility dividend of high development.” Studies also show that with more gender equality there will be higher employment rates as well as the improved utilisation of government investment in education (Smith;/Bettio 2008: 18). On the long term gender equality can also contribute to higher fertility rates, reducing poverty and social exclusion.
The OECD, the ILO, the IMF and the World Bank Group (2014) in a common paper link economic growth to gender equality. A shrinking labour force has negative impacts on economic growth. According to these international institutions, it will therefore be necessary to fully integrate women into the labour force, not subjecting them to discriminatory gender wage gaps. Also women should not involuntarily be confined to part‐time employment. Although some of these issues are regulated on a State level, institutions can partially contribute to gender equality within their policies.
a) Orientation on services and results of an organisation
Gender mainstreaming triggers forms of governance that are more focussed on evidence‐based planning, monitoring and evaluation. This goes hand in hand with the improvement in quality of services provided to citizens – this should be an ultimate goal of any public institution.
The following benefits can be identified in regard of governance:
- Including a gender perspective in the various fields of activity will result in fresh perspectives on procedures and working results.
- There is a stronger focus on impacts and results. For example, taking into account differentiated statistics as well as knowledge on gender issues in the planning stages requires a research‐based approach to thinking and acting.
- New forms of cross‐sectoral cooperation and networks within an administration system as well as cooperation between experts and researchers are stimulated. This can make working routines more interesting.
- When applying gender mainstreaming tools, a new form of knowledge is integrated into planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating public services. This means that gender mainstreaming triggers evidence‐based decision‐making, as well as a greater focus on results and effects. This administrative approach is part of administrative reforms towards knowledge based and performance oriented decision making (Baer 2004). In the end this can lead to a better quality of the services provided by an organisation – and therefore better governance.
- Mainstreaming gender equality is about acting according to the needs of women and men of various social groups. Considering the needs and interests of citizens therefore can also lead to better legitimise policies. Showing that an administration cares for the situation of different social groups of women and men by also publishing procedures and results of mainstreaming gender equality, can lead to more transparency and a higher acceptance of policies.
b) Personnel management
Promoting equal opportunities for women and men within an organisation is not the same as the implementation of gender mainstreaming. However, it can and should be part of the process – also for creating coherence between internal and external policies. Therefore, step 12 of the Guide is on “promoting equal opportunities within the organisation’s personnel”.
The following key benefits can be identified in regard of personnel management:
Non‐discrimination and equal opportunities for all staff can contribute to a better performance of an organisation: For any institution it is vital to use all possible talents and competencies. If women and men from various social groups are strictly promoted according to their talents, and not on the grounds of their sex, this will help achieving better results. However, gender stereotypes can lead to a flawed assessment of performance.
Research has consistently demonstrated that men are generally seen as more agentic and more competent than women; whereas women are seen as more expressive and more communal than men.
Sczesny and others (2004) (ibid. p. 631)
However, if characteristics like “agentic” and “competent” are attributed to leadership requirements to a greater extent than “expressive” and communal”, then this can be described as an implicit male norm of performance. If these issues are actively addressed and changed within an organisation, women and men will be able to better unfold their talents and potentials, contributing to more success of an institution.
An active policy for promoting equal opportunities of staff can contribute to employee satisfaction because it limits unfair disadvantages for staff members. If staff members are treated unfairly, this will have demotivating effects for them. If there are gender biases in assessing performance, women over‐disproportionally will be demotivated.
For example there are clear indicators that part time employees are not assessed due to their factual performance. In an organisation in which just being present at the working place is being mixed up with performance a fair promotion will be difficult. Also if there is an unwritten rule that full time employment or as well as doing overtime is necessary to be promoted, staff caring for children or the elderly will have difficulties meeting this hidden requirement.
Performance assessment of part time staff will be flawed by this wrong perception. This can also lead to the promotion of present but maybe underachieving staff. This is neither a fair nor is it an efficient approach to managing human resources.
- Measures to improve employees’ work‐life balance also can contribute to a more satisfied and motivated workforce as well as reducing personnel expenses in the long term due to improved employee health and reduced rates of illness.
- Equal opportunities policies within an organisation can contribute to higher levels of internal and external credibility and a better public image. Fair employment therefore can contribute to a positive employer branding, thereby also making an institution more attractive for potential job applicants.