Importance of gender policies, standards and empowerment of workers
To take a first step towards more gender equality in the workplace, all private sector panel members agreed that gender equality should be implemented on two levels:
- On the sector level: the integration gender criteria within industries’ and sustainability standards, also through measuring sex-disaggregated data on the sector level. Sector associations can play a role in this, for example through the development of a sector-wide gender policy or a sector-wide evaluation of gender data
- On the company level: through development and enforcement of HR and gender policies, as well as through empowerment of workers and investing in trainings and education programs on gender rights at the worker and community level.
A hands-on example was given of a male supervisor, who acted as a mentor for the female supervisor in the panel, allowing her to grow in her role. In this specific case, the male mentor provides coaching to the female supervisor on issues that come up in the field, as well as on further steps in her career.
Naturally, there are challenges in this work. When it comes to worker empowerment, there was a call to further empower women to become leaders. However, this can prove to be challenging, as some men do not accept to be supervised by a woman, or women do not accept that they can work at any department. A recommendation to address this specific issue is to for companies to invest in skills development for women, but also to identify male champions for gender rights, as well as women leaders in the company. The empowerment and involvement of all workers was echoed by all participating partners in the event: men and women need to move together towards achieving gender equality. In addition to this, companies and sector associations recommended for the private sector to invest in trainings and education programs on gender equality at the community level, to ensure the responsibility to respect the rights of men, women and children in the areas the farms operate.
Enforcement of policies
One of the flower companies emphasized that on their farm, there has been a clear business case for gender equality and empowerment in the workplace. In their experience, the implementation and enforcement of HR and gender policies contributed to a reduction in absenteeism rates, overtime hours and turnover. Also, an emphasis on policies and rights increased the motivation of the farm’s workers. However, a precondition for this is strong enforcement of policies, as well as a strong endorsement and buy-in of company leadership and management.