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Gender at GIZ

Gender equality

The motto for GIZ’s current Gender Strategy is ‘Gender reloaded: Vision needs Attitude – Attitude meets Action’. The strategy is mandatory for all parts of the company and all employee groups. Along with GIZ’s adoption of the Women’s Empowerment Principles, it demonstrates our belief in gender justice and gender equality and our determination to uphold and promote these ideals throughout the company, in all our commissions and in the services we provide. At the heart of the strategy is a commitment to equal opportunities and rights for all people regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.

GIZ has appointed a gender ambassador at senior management level and has introduced a number of digital tools and platforms designed to institutionalise the Gender Strategy and implement it across the company. In 2019, these measures helped to clarify GIZ’s approach to gender equality and raise the profile of this key strategic policy area. A total of 17 departments and corporate units drew up plans for measures to implement the strategy and issued their first reports mid-year.

By implementing its Gender Strategy and making a firm commitment to gender justice for all, GIZ also clearly supports the efforts of its clients and partners to meet German, European and international gender equality goals.

In 2019, GIZ was ranked by the independent Global Health 50/50 initiative as a ‘top performer’ in recognition of its work in the field of gender quality. Various campaigns, exhibitions and debates on the subject of gender justice attracted a great deal of attention within the company and from clients, including EU institutions. To cite just one example, the GIZ Gender Commissioner organised a photo campaign entitled ‘Zero Tolerance against Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment’ (SEAH). The campaign was actively supported by the entire Management Board and nearly 1,400 staff. The goal was to raise awareness of SEAH across the company and to communicate and implement the relevant recommendations of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

In 2019, GIZ held nine events on the topic of gender with 115 participants:

Gender is also incorporated into many other courses as a cross-cutting issue. For example, the training sessions held to prepare staff for field assignments now focus more closely on reflecting on how to deal with complexity and diversity in intercultural contexts, and a two-hour module on the Gender Strategy has been integrated into the welcome event for new staff.

GIZ Gender Strategy
Women’s Empowerment Principles

Photo: GIZ: Gender at GIZ
Sending out a clear message: GIZ staff in Liberia take a firm stand in the fight against sexual harassment (© GIZ)

Gender issues in GIZ programmes

Measures to promote gender equality contribute to the overall quality of our work and are a key element of the products and services offered by GIZ. The Safeguards+Gender Management System ensures that opportunities to promote gender equality are identified at an early stage in each project, along with any external risks or potentially adverse impacts from our activities, and that they are addressed during subsequent implementation.

In 2019, GIZ invited submissions for its 2020 Gender Award. The goal of the Gender Award is to foster innovation and to explore and disseminate effective and successful approaches to promoting gender equality. Submissions have been received from 121 teams, nearly twice as many as for the 2018 Gender Award.

Safeguards+Gender Management System 

Equal opportunities within the company

GIZ’s equal opportunities policy is designed to eliminate any disadvantage at the workplace and to ensure that women and men enjoy the same career development opportunities at every level and in every area of the company. Efforts to reach this goal began in the 1990s and have been very successful. At the end of 2019, 45 per cent of all leadership and management positions were held by women. A gender balance has already been achieved in Germany, where for the first time women now account for 51 per cent of all such positions. Outside Germany, where the proportion of women has always been lower than at Head Office, there is still room for improvement. Even here, however, the company has made tremendous progress over recent years. Forty per cent of management positions at our country offices are now occupied by women.

GIZ’s equal opportunities policy also aims to prevent gender-based discrimination against LGBTI staff at work and ensure equal opportunities for all employees. The company’s policy is based on an employer/staff council agreement. It complies with Germany’s Federal Equal Opportunities Act but gives GIZ a specific equal opportunities structure.

There are designated equal opportunity commissioners at the company’s three main sites in Bonn, Eschborn and Berlin. In addition to their supervisory role, they advise the employer on questions of equal opportunity with regards to company processes and address current issues throughout GIZ.

One important element of the policy is the Equal Opportunities Plan, which in 2020 again set out a series of goals and measures for a further three years, primarily aiming to consolidate what has been achieved so far.

The company’s three equal opportunity commissioners ensure that our HR policies reflect and continuously update the agreed goals and commitments on equal opportunities. They evaluate whether the goals set out in the Equal Opportunities Plan have been achieved and take part in the relevant negotiations with the staff councils and with GIZ as the employer. They also advise on gender-sensitive wording in job advertisements, written communications and language coaching. In 2019, they highlighted the issues of pay transparency and equal pay. Several events were held at GIZ to explore gender bias in recruitment, assessment, remuneration and promotion. Coaching sessions were also held to help women prepare for salary negotiations.

On the initiative of the equal opportunity commissioners, talks were held with the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency on how remuneration could be checked at GIZ. The aim was to highlight any unintended gender-based salary discrimination and take steps to counter it through a new collective bargaining agreement on remuneration. The initiative received official support from the Labour Relations Director at the end of 2019. An external consultant certified by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency will start work in 2020 and will draw up proposed solutions together with a GIZ project group made up of representatives from the HR Department, the equal opportunity commissioners and the staff councils.

Another focus in 2019 was on arrangements allowing more staff in management positions to work part-time and increasing the proportion of women occupying management positions in the field structure. New HR policy measures were also introduced on the back of recommendations from the company’s equal opportunity commissioners. For example, all vacancies, including those in the field structure, are now advertised as both full-time and part-time positions, and advertisements are checked, and if necessary reworded, to eliminate any gender bias.

Job-sharing and co-leadership issues were addressed by an external consultant (a university professor) at a Head Office event in June 2019. At the end of 2019, the HR Department began planning and designing a pilot project on co-leadership to be implemented in 2020. In consultation with the equal opportunity commissioners, the Leadership Development team prepared a briefing on gender bias, gender-sensitive language, social skills and diversity issues, about which the observers in the STEP procedure are regularly informed.

In 2019, the company’s equal opportunity commissioners stressed the importance of avoiding discrimination against women on maternity leave or those with young children. They also expanded the internal online platform on preventing and dealing with sexual harassment and organised events on the topic at several locations. The equal opportunity commissioners also advised those affected, managers and the HR Department on the investigation process, on refining the policy and on drawing up the details of the Code of Ethics, which was published in 2020.

In collaboration with the various staff representation groups, the Corporate Equal Opportunity Commissioner launched GIZ’s first Diversity Day to highlight the issue of diversity across the company. Together with the Cultural Diversity Initiative, the Rainbow Network, the disabled persons’ representation and the staff councils, they organised events covering each of the seven dimensions of diversity during the Diversity Day. The day was also marked by GIZ’s official signing of the Diversity Charter.

Graphic: GIZ: SDG 5 Gender equality
Graphic: GIZ: SDG 10 Reduced inequalities

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