- Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
- Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
- Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment
Institutionalizing gender equity
Institutionalize commitments to ensure gender integration efforts are successful across the company:
- Ensure minimum national and international environmental and social (E&S) standards for women are met – such as access to unions, grievance mechanisms, payment of minimum wages, maternity leave, provision of the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical facilities, and stringent sexual harassment policies.
- Secure buy-in from senior leadership by ensuring all plans and operations harmonize with national policies and frameworks around agriculture and around gender.
- Establish corporate-level commitment to gender equity, and clearly communicate this to managers and staff.
- Have a company plan for gender diversity, including targets and measurement systems.
- Report externally on company plan for gender diversity and targets, then report out on progress towards those targets (e.g. through an annual report).
- Collect disaggregated HR data on recruitment, hiring, pay, promotion, and retention by gender (and other categories such as race and ethnicity).
- Review and revise all HR policies to contain gender-inclusive language and ensure gender equality.
- Assess and revise internal and external communications to contain gender neutral and or gender equitable language and photos.
- Train managers on gender equity, unconscious bias, counteracting bias in performance reviews, and how policies may be used differently by men and women (e.g., flexible work or leave).
Risk mitigation for large operations
Mitigate risks related to gender inequities at the start of the project, and institute safeguards and mechanisms to protect women’s and men’s wellbeing throughout implementation:
- Conduct a gender risk assessment in the planning and development phase to understand how the project may impact women’s safety (both as workers and as community members) throughout the project lifecycle. [See COMMUNITY tab]
- Develop and implement measures to prevent and respond to potential risks identified during the gender risk assessment.
- Require all employees and contractors to sign code of conduct detailing expectations and relevant policies in place to prevent and respond to potential risks identified.
- In cases of resettlement, issue joint land titles to both women and men with a claim to land ownership to ensure that underrepresented rights-holder groups, including women, are not excluded from the land-title registration process.
- Ensure women’s equal representation in business continuity planning and response to uncommon events and disruptions (e.g., disease outbreaks, civil disturbances, or natural disasters).
- Use data to track impact of uncommon events or disruptions (e.g., disease outbreaks, civil disturbances, or natural disasters) on employees of different identities (such as gender, race, nationality, and ethnicity).
Recruitment & hiring
Implement equitable recruitment and hiring processes that attract qualified women and enable them to secure positions:
- Remove bias from job descriptions and listings. Wording can impact whether more women or men apply; research shows that “masculine” adjectives like superior, competitive, determined, and expert can deter female candidates. All qualifications should directly tie to duties performed on the job (e.g., for physically demanding roles, describe specific tasks like climbing a ladder rather than encouraging the “physically fit” to apply).
- Expand sourcing networks to attract a more diverse talent pool particularly in fields and functions that are traditionally male-dominated. Look at diversity-oriented job groups, and partner with diversity organizations or diversity-oriented groups at universities to offer internships to high potential female candidates.
- Develop outreach programs with educational institutions that lead to attraction of both male and female job candidates to build a robust pipeline of talent (e.g., through scholarships, university visits, apprenticeships).
- Post job advertisements in a variety of media so that both men and women are equally likely to view the job posting (e.g., radio, signboards near markets, announcements in local community group meetings).
- Engage women in non-traditional jobs to fill roles at a low cost and contribute to improvements in gender equity. This not only opens up a wider talent pool, but also can contribute to enhanced employee satisfaction and retention.
- Consider conducting blind resume screening by removing names before review.
- Define objective hiring criteria and get hiring teams on the same page ahead of time to prevent unspoken or subjective criteria from appearing late in the evaluation stages.
- Design selection processes to reduce bias through behavior-based interviewing and diverse panels of interviewers.
- Ask potential hires the same questions. Develop an interview script that is used for each candidate for a certain job.
- Prohibit inquiring about the status or plans of the following in job applications or during interview processes: marriage, pregnancy, or care responsibilities.
- Analyze and revise existing internship / apprenticeship programs to set balanced participation from males and females as an expectation. If new programs are developed, design the program with gender-inclusive processes.
Professional development & skill building
Develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent with equitable opportunities to build skills and advance:
- Create skill-building opportunities to convert local women and men in temporary roles (e.g., manual work or other casual labor) to ongoing, permanent roles at the farm/production site.
- Train local women and men to engage constructively in the operations and management of the project or buiness, laying the foundations for greater community ownership of farming companies in the future.
- Provide ongoing training and field-based mentorship opportunities to build technical skills and enhance access to resources and networks. Ensure professional development and career advancement opportunities meet the needs of, and are accessible to and used by both men and women.
- Upskill female workers and propel them to higher level positions. Invest in training and extension services tailored for women to improve their yields and upgrade their skills for more technical and senior roles in the sector. Ensure training content covers both hard/technical skills and soft skills needed. Specific skills could range from irrigation and cultivation techniques, to farm management and business administration in anticipation of leadership roles.
- Tailor training content and delivery style to female employees to increase effectiveness of knowledge/skills transfer related to farming practices. Consider: timing, location, language of instruction, video versus written content (e.g., video trainings may help female employees to overcome mobility, time, and literacy constraints), provision of transportation and childcare, and use of female trainers/extension workers (including in training videos).
- Upskill female workers (as above) and propel them into non-traditional roles for women in the local market context (e.g., as agronomists, machine technicians, tractor drivers, etc.). Greater representation and visibility of women in technical and senior roles can have a role model effect for younger women interested in agricultural careers, and lead to norm change in the sector.
- Involve women’s participation and leadership in farming associations/unions. Engaging women in these roles can enable them to voice their concerns and participate in high-level decision making and resource allocation.
Facilitate ongoing support and networking opportunities among female employees:
- Pair new hires with a sponsor to advocate for their interest and make their accomplishments visible to higher-level staff.
- Implement a mentorship program, assessing young workers’ needs and matching them with relevant male or female mentors. Sensitize both mentors and mentees on the purpose and appropriate dynamics of the relationship, and create incentives for participation.
- Create conversation / connection opportunities with female role models. Highlighting successful women in leadership positions can attract female applicants and encourage current employees to take on leadership roles.
Employee evaluation & promotion
- Assess employee performance based on standard decisive factors and metrics that are consistent across other employees in similar job functions. Ensure managers maintain a regular (i.e., monthly or bi-monthly) performance log for each direct-report.
- Use a uniform evaluation cycle. Conducting performance reviews of all employees simultaneously helps supervisors dedicate ample time to write good evaluations and ensure consistency among all employees.
- Ensure managers are given adequate time to do their evaluations, as the more rushed people are, the more they rely on stereotypes.
- Establish and implement inclusive, gender-equitable succession plans (ensuring succession plans including gender-neutral selection criteria and plans to develop candidates).
Eliminate pay gaps between positions of comparable levels:
- Do not ask for previous salary history or have applicants name a salary when hiring.
- Create narrow pay bands, as women are less likely to negotiate the first offer.
- If possible, implement pay equity processes grounded in statistical analysis with annual reviews, including bonuses or commissions. Control for observable factors such as level of position, years of experience, and/or education.
- Provide managers with pay data for the organization, benchmarks for their male and female supervisees, and if applicable, market information on employment in the sector.
- Inform employees of low, median, and high pay ranges for particular roles.
- Implement formal remediation protocols to ensure pay equity processes are implemented appropriately and that manager discretion doesn’t promote inequality.
- Provide direct payments into the bank accounts of female employees, assisting women to establish their own accounts if necessary. When payments are given to a household (in cash or transferred to the head of household’s account), men often have control over spending decisions. However, making payments directly to women enables them to make decisions around how the money they earn is spent and potentially increases employee satisfaction and retention.
Flexible work & care
- Support access to child and dependent care, e.g., provide on-site childcare, reserve reduced-rate spaces in local childcare centers, and/or offer subsidies or vouchers to preferred child and elder care providers. Care support enables female farmers and producers to consistently attend and concentrate on work.
- When possible, offer flexible work opportunities to accommodate work-life demands of men and women. Options will vary based on the demands of the position and could include: flexible start times, a compressed work week, and/or telecommuting or working from home for off-farm jobs.
- Measure and track proportion of employees who are and are not using flexible work options, and disaggregate by gender.
- Encourage managers to make use of benefits to demonstrate their acceptance to their teams (such as flexible work, parental leave, family and medical leave, and paid-time off).
Health & safety considerations
Support working parents/caregivers and general employee health in order to retain talent and ensure operational consistency across life transitions:
- Provide health care benefits (ensure meets minimum requirement of government).
- Have a paid maternity leave policy (ensure meets minimum requirement of government).
- Have a paid paternity leave policy (ensure meets minimum requirement of government).
- Establish return-to-work policies, providing a transition back to full-time work for parents returning from leave. Ensure employees return to the same or an equivalent job with no substantial change in contractual or other relevant terms.
- Provide an option for a phased return to work after parental leave.
- Support new mothers’ return to work by providing a private rest area for breastfeeding/pumping. A lactation room is one of several strategies that can better enable women to consistently attend work after having a baby.
- Provide “family and medical leave” or comprehensive sick leave (ensure meets minimum requirement of government).
- Conduct equity and impact analysis of benefits, including usage and uptake of benefits disaggregated by gender.
- Provide options for insurance packages that cover the specific health needs of women (e.g., gynecology, maternal health, reproductive health, cancer screens, domestic violence treatment).
If farm/production site is in remote or rural location, ensure employees have access to quality healthcare services and clinics:
- Coordinate onsite mobile clinics for screens for employees, with health providers that are trained on women’s health issues and needs.
- Establish linkages with local health clinics and service providers for referral purposes, including ones that cover specific needs of women, including reproductive and maternal health.
Ensure farm/production site grounds are safe for all employees:
- Provide adequate and safe toilet facilities for women that accommodate hygiene needs, such as clean water and soap and disposal methods for feminine hygiene products.
- If providing accommodation for workers, ensure safe, separate housing options with adequate facilities for women and men.
Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (if applicable):
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for men and women, accounting for female sizing where needed, and especially taking into consideration the needs of pregnant and nursing women. Ensure employees have access to sex segregated changing areas.
Accommodate pregnant workers’ health and safety needs:
- In cases where a job may potentially be harmful or physically challenging for pregnant women, allow temporary job reassignment at full pay and proactively communicate that there will be no penalty upon returning to previous role.
Addressing gender-based violence & harassment
Address sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence at work to foster a healthy climate where workers are safe and productive:
- Develop a strong sexual harassment policy and make employees aware of it. This can include a definition of sexual harassment, and a statement about the company’s commitment to providing a “zero-tolerance” workplace free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and violence. It should detail consequences for violators of the policy, potentially including termination and/or referral to law enforcement if appropriate, referencing any legislation on gender-based violence and/or workplace harassment.
- Research and include in the policy a local referral pathway for survivors of violence. The policy should provide direction on how to lodge sexual harassment complaints and identify which services are available for victims through the workplace and in the community. In addition, the policy should stipulate that complaints will be treated with utmost confidentiality and discretion.
- Include a whistleblower policy to reduce fear of retaliation, and raise awareness on how workers can use it to anonymously report instances of GBV and sexual harassment on the work site or in the community. It should state that preventing and addressing sexual harassment is the responsibility of all employees. It also should clarify protections and support for bystander employees who report incidents, as well as the process for action and follow up.
- Socialize the policy with all levels of workers and contractors, providing annual refresher training to permanent employees on zero-tolerance for all forms of violence (including engaging in sex-based harassment or acts of sexual exploitation of women and girls while on business travel). Ensure information is widely disseminated in native language(s) using images or audio/video explanations where literacy levels are low.
- Train all new workers and employees on what constitutes and causes different manifestations of GBV, including sex-based harassment and sexual exploitation. Include bystander training, which instills strategies and skills in coworkers to intervene and deter GBV and harassment.
- Implement a confidential grievance mechanism for victims of GBV/harassment that involves third party reporting systems and transparent consequences. If promoting a hotline, provide employees with phone access or small denominations of mobile “airtime” where needed.
- Train resource personnel who can help handle the process. Form a confidential committee with “diagonal” representation (not just senior HR) to improve accountability in investigating and responding to GBV and harassment reports.
- To encourage others to use the grievance mechanism, regularly inform employees about resolved cases and any disciplinary action taken, omitting identifying details to preserve confidentiality.
Address sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence in the community:
- Consider female employees’ safety when traveling to and from work sites, especially if in remote locations. For example, have female and male colleagues travel together if/when needed. If safety on public transportation is a risk for women, consider providing designated employer shuttles or other safe modes of transportation (e.g., car, motorbikes, bicycles) – ensuring women are consulted on the decision.
- Focus on agricultural value chains that have historically been female-dominated (such as quinoa in Latin America or shea butter in West Africa) to capitalize on women as a committed supplier base and increase impacts on female farmers/employees. In almost every culture women have been the primary custodians of certain crops and animals. Investment in companies that equitably commercialize these value chains may enable greater participation of women in production, processing, and leadership roles.