An Experiment with LinkedIn as a Tool in Gender Equality

When Niall Crowley, former CEO of the Irish Equality Authority summarised the hot topics that will take gender mainstreaming forward in Europe, diversity was one of them. Performance monitoring of gender mainstreaming was the other. He said this in his closing remarks at the the European Institute for Gender Equality's conference on gender mainstreaming and training, held in Vilnius in November. I had delivered a contribution to the workshop entitled Accommodating Diversity in Gender Training, and agree with Mr Crowley that including diversity in gender strategies is an important way forward. 


In my ideal world, people who understand music, art and geography are as important as people who understand economics when it comes to deciding how we are going to define a new economic order. In my ideal world, women and men bake cakes and clean babies bottoms and head ministries in national cabinets. In my ideal world, professional women tennis players are paid the same as men tennis players. Thanks to Billie Jean King we have that part of my ideal world already. 

A few days after the conference I delivered my Mobilise Networks workshop to health professionals in the Netherlands. One manager challenged me on the value of LinkedIn in the work context, so I decided to put her challenge to the test. I posted on one of my groups the questions: "Because diversity is such a hot topic it is likely to be the topic that advances gender equality into the next phase. I'm interested to hear what you think."

Khosi Nxumalo of South Africa's Commission of Gender Equality responded that she thinks performance monitoring of gender mainstreaming is the key issue going forward. "This is what we are currently battling with in South Africa."

Susanne Moore, executive advisor and business transformation expert from Sydney, Australia responded to let Ms Nxumalo know that she is currently researching “The profit impact of organisational gender Diversity programs” as the first part of her research into Diversity Economics. She has developed a Diversity Program Review Framework, and sent the link http://susannemoore.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/major-dimensions/

So far so good. South Africa has now access to a framework for measuring diversity programs.

The framework was good news for Carrie Pemberton Ford, human trafficking researcher in the UK. She wanted to know more. She learned that the framework will do several things for a client.
1) It will measure the effectiveness of a diversity program from a standalone program perspective and assess the capability of the program according to known program metrics.
2) It will measure the effectiveness of the diversity program organizationally, that is: it will look at the level of engagement and integration of the program at an organizational level and if the organisation is fully leveraging the benefits of diversity (in terms of innovation, performance and creativity).
3) It will provide the data Susanne needs to input into her research project, “The profit impact of organisational gender Diversity programs”. 

Susanne said "So through the process of the review we are hoping to uncover areas where we think we can draw a causal link to profit."

"Currently, at least in Australia, most of our diversity programs are run out of the HR area, and I want to highlight the profit impact on the bottom line and get them recognised as an important business transformation driver, ie; getting them seen as more than HR. I have a background in the corporate world and know that in order for diversity (particularly gender diversity) to be taken seriously we must prove a causal link to profitability."

With the UK and South Africa involved and Australia providing concrete input nto how to measure the value of diversity in gender mainstreaming, World Bank gender economist Elbatoule Alaoui in Washington joined the discussion. She agrees that diversity is appropriate since gender issues is not only about the sex-specific differences between men and women, girls and boys but also about the differences between people in the same sex community.

"Diversity is at the basis of gender approach", she wrote in the group discussion.  "I believe that in Europe the policies needs to take into account the specific needs of the new citizen coming from developing countries and west Europe for a better social cohesion and sustainable growth. It is as important as in developing countries even if the parameters are different. Based on my experience in gender mainstreaming in Morocco, taking into consideration specific needs and interests of women and men is at the basis of development sustainability. For example girls in rural area don't have the same interests and needs as girls in the city. All women in the same city don't have the same needs and interests and public policies have to take into account this diversity in their development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation."

Ms Alaoui concluded that she would like to join me in my project, and that she can contribute in Arabic, French and English. I am sitting here thinking: what a great idea! There is not a project at the moment, but there is definitely a need for one. 

My next question to readers is: how will we create this as a project, and who will do what?

And yes, LinkedIn definitely works as a tool in promoting gender equality.

Lin McDevitt-Pugh

At the core of Lin McDevitt-Pugh's work is a passion for freedom, exploration and respect for all people. Lin is the Director of NETSHEILA, a company she founded three years ago to provide management expertise in connecting organisations to the most valuable resource they have: the people they know or could know. Social networks connect, and so does sitting around a table with colleagues andt discussing real issues that matter to you.

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