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These tools for the off-grid energy sector can be used to explore gender opportunities, screen potential investments through a gender lens, and advise portfolio companies on how to better integrate gender into their operations and supply chains. Then follow the evidence to learn where gender matters most with the off-grid energy Gender Materiality Map.

GENDER OPPORTUNITIES EXPLORER

Understand opportunities to better integrate gender in an off-grid energy company’s operations and supply chain

GENDER SCORING TOOL

Complete a questionnaire about the target company to generate a personalized gender scorecard

CASE STUDIES

Explore how leading off-grid energy companies integrate gender into their operations, and the resulting business and social benefits

  • Copyright: RHU (Uganda).

    Off-Grid Energy
    Gender Opportunities Explorer

    The Gender Opportunities Explorer highlights opportunities to better integrate gender in the operations and supply chain of an off-grid energy or energy application company.

    Click through the horizontal tabs at the top to consider segments of the value chain that are most relevant to the target company:

    • Design and R&D
    • Production & Manufacturing
    • Marketing & Sales
    • Distribution & Installation
    • After-Sales Service

     

    The following gender-smart business domains are listed in the lefthand tabs where relevant:

    • Board
    • Workforce
    • Supply Chain
    • Consumers
    • Community

    As you move across the value chain, explore various gender opportunities that intersect in off-grid energy.

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Company Board

      • Support and maintain diversity on the board of directors prioritizing a minimum of 2-3 female directors to avoid the perverse effect of apparent “tokenism”.
    • Key

      • 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:

      • 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, and how policies may be used differently by men and women (e.g., flexible work).
       

      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).
      • Analyze and revise existing internship programs to set balanced participation from males and females as an expectation. If new internship programs are developed, design the program with gender-inclusive processes.
      • 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).
      • 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
       

      Professional development & skill building

      Develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent with equitable opportunities to build skills and advance:

      • Ensure professional development and career advancement opportunities (including mentorship and trainings) meet the needs of, and are accessible to and used by both men and women.
      • Create a structured rotational program for employees to gain exposure to non-traditional roles and learn new skills across the workplace.
      • Ensure training curriculum covers both hard/technical skills and soft skills needed in the job.
      • Tailor training content and delivery style to female employees to increase effectiveness of knowledge/skills transfer. Consider: timing, location, language of instruction, in-person vs. remote (to help female employees overcome mobility and time constraints), provision of transportation and childcare, and use of female trainers (including in training videos).
       

      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

      • 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.
      • 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.
      • Establish and implement inclusive, gender-equitable succession plans (ensuring succession plans including gender-neutral selection criteria and plans to develop candidates).
       

      Pay equity

      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 satisfaction and participation in the supply chain.
       

      Flexible work and care

      • 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, compressed work week, and/or telecommuting or working from home.
      • 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).
      • Support access to child and dependent care, such as 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.
       

      Health and 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.
      • Support new mothers’ return to work by providing a private rest area or lactation room for breastfeeding/pumping.
      • 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).
       

      Ensure workplace is 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.
      •  

        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 local 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 staff about resolved cases and any disciplinary action taken, omitting identifying details to preserve confidentiality.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Know Your [Female] Customer

      Research typical end-users of various energy products in order to design effectively for consumers in the last mile and/or the bottom of the pyramid:

      • Collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data on product usage and customer segmentation to understand differentiated needs and interests.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Young Women in STEM

      Invest in girls and young women to ensure a sustainable pipeline of future STEM talent:

      • Support girls’ exposure to and education in STEM-related subjects, e.g. through school visits, “bring your daughter to work day,” and/or reserving internships for female students.
      • Conduct awareness campaigns with schools and universities on STEM jobs and opportunities for women.
      • Reserve internships and provide matching services for female STEM students.
       

      Advocacy for Gender Equity in Energy

      Advocate and contribute to thought leadership:

      • Consider designing products for productive uses that can enhance women’s economic empowerment (e.g., institutional cookstoves for food business)
      • Write articles, join coalitions, or speak in public forums about how gender equity is impacted by off-grid energy products and services.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Company Board

      • Support and maintain diversity on the board of directors prioritizing a minimum of 2-3 female directors to avoid the perverse effect of apparent “tokenism”.
    • Key

      • 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:

      • 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).
      • Ensure that minimum national and international environmental and social (E&S) standards for all workers 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.
      • 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, and how policies may be used differently by men and women (e.g., flexible work).
       

      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).
      • Analyze and revise existing internship programs to set balanced participation from males and females as an expectation. If new internship programs are developed, design the program with gender-inclusive processes.
      • 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).
      • 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
       

      Professional development & skill building

      Develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent with equitable opportunities to build skills and advance:

      • Ensure professional development and career advancement opportunities (including mentorship and trainings) meet the needs of, and are accessible to and used by both men and women.
      • Create a structured rotational program for employees to gain exposure to non-traditional roles and learn new skills across the workplace.
      • Ensure training curriculum covers both hard/technical skills and soft skills needed in the job.
      • Tailor training content and delivery style to female employees to increase effectiveness of knowledge/skills transfer. Consider: timing, location, language of instruction, in-person vs. remote (to help female employees overcome mobility and time constraints), provision of transportation and childcare, and use of female trainers (including in training videos).
       

      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

      • 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.
      • 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.
      • Establish and implement inclusive, gender-equitable succession plans (ensuring succession plans including gender-neutral selection criteria and plans to develop candidates).
       

      Pay equity

      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 satisfaction and participation in the supply chain.
       

      Flexible work and care

      • 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, compressed work week, and/or telecommuting or working from home.
      • 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).
      • Support access to child and dependent care, such as 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.
       

      Health and 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.
      • Support new mothers’ return to work by providing a private rest area or lactation room for breastfeeding/pumping.
      • 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).
       

      Ensure workplace is 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.
      •  

        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 local 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 staff about resolved cases and any disciplinary action taken, omitting identifying details to preserve confidentiality.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Procurement Practices

      As part of the company’s supplier diversity program or code of practice, create gender-inclusive procurement policies:

      • If directly or indirectly spending government funds, comply with or exceed the mandated minimum percentage of public procurement spending on women and other protected classes such as persons with disabilities or members of indigenous groups. Beyond compliance incentives, there are economic and risk-mitigation benefits to be reaped by companies that diversify their supplier base.
      • If affirmative action is allowed or required, leverage supplier diversity according to legal requirements. Set a target level of procurement spending (percentage of value, not number of contracts) in all business units and categories of spend that are earmarked for women-owned businesses. Include this standard clause in requests for proposals/information.
      • Establish a uniform reporting mechanism to track spending for all minority-owned supplier categories.
      • Consider giving preference to firms that perform better on key GENDER METRICS such as gender balance in governance, leadership or workforce; disclosing gender pay equity; offering flexible work and care; meeting women’s health and safety needs; and addressing GBV and harassment.
      • Create a pre-qualification scheme that accredits “gender-smart” suppliers. Using a gender diagnostic like the ICRW sector-specific scoring tools, reward good scores in these areas by accrediting and contracting with high-performers. Offset the benefits of compliance and risk mitigation with extended accreditation periods to gender-smart firms. Depending on volumes and other terms of contract, consider paying 3-5% more on services/products from pre-qualified first- and second-tier suppliers.
      • Develop and maintain a database of local, regional, and national businesses that are accredited for reaching a score threshold. Ensure the database is updated regularly.
      • Advertise the opportunity through channels that women can also access, determined by context (e.g., radio, signboards near markets, announcements in local women’s group meetings)
      • Reduce bias in procurement by providing applicants with uniform information about the opportunity, asking potential suppliers the same questions, and limiting the extent of negotiation permitted in contracting. Assumptions that women can bargain in the marketplace as freely as men, and biased valuation of men’s work above women’s, inherently underlie market rates and reproduce gender inequality in market pay rates.
      • Reduce the size of tenders. Whether measured by employment, revenues or asset base, women-led businesses tend to be smaller, and therefore may struggle to meet high contract volumes or neglect to apply if terms seem too large, fast, or complex.
      • Strive for gender balance on the internal team of procurement professionals. More women employees sourcing can lead to greater gender equity in procurement deals.
       

      Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment

      Analyze the supply chain to identify additional areas where the company can promote women’s economic empowerment:

      • If selecting between a male and female contractor with comparable qualifications, or firms offering similar quality and price points, give preference to the woman or woman-led firm.
      • Facilitate female entrepreneurs’ access to working capital through structuring contracts to enable up-front payments, providing or linking to microfinance, and/or supporting group formation for village savings and loan associations (VSLAs).
      • Provide training to female entrepreneurs on quality assurance and quality control.
      • Enhance tendering capacity of women-owned SMEs through training and mentoring in proposal writing and record-keeping, and offering feedback after failed bids. Support training participants to source any missing documentation (business registration, referrals or track record of experience) and add them to the database of accredited suppliers.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Young Women in STEM

      Invest in girls and young women to ensure a sustainable pipeline of future STEM talent:

      • Support girls’ exposure to and education in STEM-related subjects, e.g. through school visits, “bring your daughter to work day,” and/or reserving internships for female students.
      • Conduct awareness campaigns with schools and universities on STEM jobs and opportunities for women.
      • Reserve internships and provide matching services for female STEM students.
       

      Advocacy for Gender Equity in Off-Grid Energy

      Advocate and contribute to thought leadership:

      • Write articles, join coalitions, or speak in public forums about link between gender and off-grid energy.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Company Board

      • Support and maintain diversity on the board of directors prioritizing a minimum of 2-3 female directors to avoid the perverse effect of apparent “tokenism”.
    • Key

      • 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:

      • 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, and how policies may be used differently by men and women (e.g., flexible work or leave).
       

      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.
      • Develop outreach programs with educational institutions that lead to attraction of both male and female 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).
      • 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.
      • Screen for qualities that may be important for sales / the position (e.g., motivation, ability to thrive in customer interactions) as opposed to education and job history to avoid excluding talented candidates. Socio-cultural norms and lower education levels may have precluded women from typical precursor jobs.
      • 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
      • Offer a trial period to test whether the role would be a good fit. This can reduce costs associated with training and retention as only those who are more qualified and committed receive continued support.
       

      Professional development & skill building

      Develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent with equitable opportunities to build skills and advance:

      • Provide ongoing training and field-based mentorship opportunities to build skills related to sales and customer interaction. Ensure all professional development and career advancement opportunities meet the needs of, and are accessible to and used by both men and women.
      • Tailor training content and delivery style to female agents to increase effectiveness of knowledge/skills transfer. Consider: timing, location, language of instruction, in-person vs. remote (to help female employees overcome mobility and time constraints), provision of transportation and childcare, and use of female trainers (including in training videos).
       

      Facilitate ongoing support and networking opportunities among female agents:

      • 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 agents 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).
       

      Pay equity

      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.
      • Consider how payment mechanisms can meet the needs of female and male agents. For example, while male sales agents might be more motivated by higher commission with a relatively low base salary, female sales agents may prefer a more stable base salary with lower commission levels.
      • 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 agents, 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 satisfaction and retention.
       

      Flexible work and care

      • 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, compressed work week, and/or telecommuting or working from home.
      • 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).
      • Support access to child and dependent care, such as 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.
       

      Offer flexible work arrangements for pregnant women and mothers who travel for work:

      • In cases where a job may potentially be harmful or physically challenging for pregnant women, allow a modified schedule or temporary job reassignment at full pay, and proactively communicate that there will be no penalty upon returning to previous role.
      • Particularly for mothers, provide flexibility in travel requirements, sales activities, and scheduling meetings.
      • Consider allowing staff to travel with their children and children’s caregivers to enable female agents to balance work and care responsibilities.
       

      Health and 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.
      • Support new mothers’ return to work by providing a private rest area or lactation room for breastfeeding/pumping.
      • 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).
       

      Consider safety and transportation needs for work-related travel:

      • Consider safety needs of female agents traveling to sell products and interact with customers. For example, have male and female colleague(s) travel together when/if needed (e.g., in collecting payments from male customers who have not been paying).
      • Provide field staff with appropriate and safe modes of transportation (e.g., bus, car, motorbikes, bicycles) – ensuring that women are consulted on decision.
       

      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 and contractors 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 local 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 staff about resolved cases and any disciplinary action taken, omitting identifying details to preserve confidentiality.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Procurement Practices

      Implement gender-inclusive procurement practices:

      • Advertise the opportunity through channels that women can also access, determined by context (e.g., radio, signboards near markets, announcements in local women’s group meetings).
      • Reduce bias in procurement by providing applicants with uniform information about the opportunity, asking potential entrepreneurs and sellers the same questions, and limiting the extent of negotiation permitted in contracting. Assumptions that women can bargain in the marketplace as freely as men, and biased valuation of men’s work above women’s, inherently underlie market rates and reproduce gender inequality in market pay rates.
      • Identify qualities needed in women who can be potential marketers / sellers of products on commission, and engage them (acknowledging they may only engage for the short-term once exhaust current network).
      • Offer trial periods for to test whether the role would be a good fit. This can reduce costs associated with training and retention as only those who are more qualified and committed receive continued support.
      • Strive for gender balance on the internal team of procurement professionals. More women employees sourcing can lead to greater gender equity in procurement deals.
       

      Professional Development & Skill Building

      Provide entrepreneurs with initial and ongoing support:

      • Provide an entrepreneur starter package (e.g., product samples, marketing materials).
      • Provide incentives and opportunities for successful women to share experiences, recruit new women as sellers, and take on leadership roles.
      • Create a tiered system of accountability.
      • Offer training and field-based mentorship opportunities to build skills related to sales and customer interaction (with content and format tailored to women’s and men’s needs).
       

      Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment

      Support access to finance for female entrepreneurs and sales agents:

      • Engage women as micro-entrepreneurs or sales agents for company itself, e.g. in marketing door-to-door or conducting product demonstrations. Leveraging women’s skills in communication can raise awareness on the health, environmental, and time saving benefits of clean energy products for women and girlss.
      • Facilitate female entrepreneurs’ access to working capital through structuring contracts to enable up-front payments, providing or linking to microfinance, and/or supporting group formation for village savings and loan associations (VSLAs).
      • Provide direct payments into the bank accounts of female entrepreneurs, 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 satisfaction and participation in the supply chain.
      • Train women borrowers on financial management.
      • Ensure women have equal access to innovative finance mechanisms (e.g., loans, consignment, credit).
      • When working with financial institutions, provide financial support to reduce risk and conduct education / advocacy to increase ability and willingness to lend to women entrepreneurs.
      • Organize women borrowers into groups or networks.
      • Create flexible terms such as low interest rates and small repayment amounts.
       

      Addressing gender-based violence & harassment

      • Consider safety needs of female entrepreneurs and sales agents traveling to sell products and interact with customers. For example, have male and female seller(s) travel together when/if needed (e.g., in collecting payments from male customers who have not been paying).
      • Provide field agents with appropriate and safe modes of transportation (e.g., bus, car, motorbikes, bicycles) – ensuring that women are consulted on decision.
       

      Other

      Consider field logistics such as through the following:

      • Engage intermediaries for transportation services.
      • Create central product hubs to access and sell products, as well as where maintenance and service of products can occur.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Know Your [Female] Customer

      Research typical end-users of various energy products in order to market effectively to various consumer segments:

      • Collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data on product usage and customer segmentation to understand differentiated needs and interests.
      • Tailor marketing messages, payment methods, and promotions to meet the needs of women (and men), addressing the different ways in which women and men use, or could benefit from using off-grid energy.
      • Where relevant, specifically market products/services to female customers to capitalize on women’s purchasing power. For example, leverage female sales agents to market to savings groups and other women’s networks, while also raising awareness on the health, environmental, and time saving benefits of clean energy products for women and girls.
      • Create payment plans and costing structures to make products/services accessible to low-income, often female-headed, households. Work with customers who miss payments to create a more feasible payment plan.
      • Ensure external commmunications materials and marketing messages appeal to both male and female customers. Research gender and social norms to understand how to best communicate to women and men consumers, and adapt in different contexts. Revise external communications and marketing to contain gender neutral and/or gender equitable language and photos. Ensure customer depictions in advertising materials reflect the full range of customer diversity.
      • In areas where it is not considered acceptable for a man to be in a woman’s home without her husband / other family members present, dispatch women employees (e.g., as collection agents) for residential requests.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advocacy for Gender Equity in Energy

      Advocate and contribute to thought leadership:

      • Conduct social marketing campaigns alongside promotions so families understand how clean energy products are healthier, more environmentally friendly, and save labor / time for girls and women in particular.
      • Consider designing and selling products for productive uses that can enhance women’s economic empowerment (e.g., institutional cookstoves for food business)
      • Write articles, join coalitions, or speak in public forums about how gender equity is impacted by off-grid energy products and services.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Company Board

      • Support and maintain diversity on the board of directors prioritizing a minimum of 2-3 female directors to avoid the perverse effect of apparent “tokenism”.
    • Key

      • 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:

      • 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, and how policies may be used differently by men and women (e.g., flexible work or leave).
       

      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.
      • Develop outreach programs with educational institutions that lead to attraction of both male and female 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).
      • 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.
      • Screen for qualities that may be important for distribution / the position (e.g., motivation, ability to thrive in customer interactions) as opposed to education and job history to avoid excluding talented candidates. Socio-cultural norms and lower education levels may have precluded women from typical precursor jobs.
      • 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
      • Offer a trial period to test whether the role would be a good fit. This can reduce costs associated with training and retention as only those who are more qualified and committed receive continued support.
       

      Professional development & skill building

      Develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent with equitable opportunities to build skills and advance:

      • Provide ongoing training and field-based mentorship opportunities to build skills related to customer interaction. Ensure all professional development and career advancement opportunities meet the needs of, and are accessible to and used by both men and women.
      • Ensure training curriculum covers both hard/technical skills and soft skills needed in the job.
      • Tailor training content and delivery style to female agents to increase effectiveness of knowledge/skills transfer. Consider: timing, location, language of instruction, in-person vs. remote (to help female employees overcome mobility and time constraints), provision of transportation and childcare, and use of female trainers (including in training videos).
       

      Facilitate ongoing support and networking opportunities among female agents:

      • 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 agents 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).
       

      Pay equity

      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.
      • Consider how payment mechanisms can meet the needs of female and male agents. For example, while male sales agents might be more motivated by higher commission with a relatively low base salary, female sales agents may prefer a more stable base salary with lower commission levels.
      • 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 agents, 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 satisfaction and retention.
       

      Flexible work and care

      • 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, compressed work week, and/or telecommuting or working from home.
      • 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).
      • Support access to child and dependent care, such as 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.
       

      Offer flexible work arrangements for pregnant women and mothers who travel for work:

      • In cases where a job may potentially be harmful or physically challenging for pregnant women, allow a modified schedule or temporary job reassignment at full pay, and proactively communicate that there will be no penalty upon returning to previous role.
      • Particularly for mothers, provide flexibility in travel requirements, distribution activities, and scheduling meetings.
      • Consider allowing staff to travel with their children and children’s caregivers to enable female agents to balance work and care responsibilities.
       

      Health and 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.
      • Support new mothers’ return to work by providing a private rest area or lactation room for breastfeeding/pumping.
      • 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).
       

      Consider safety and transportation needs for work-related travel:

      • Consider safety needs of female agents traveling to distribute products and interact with customers. For example, have male and female colleague(s) travel together when/if needed (e.g., in collecting payments from male customers who have not been paying).
      • Provide field staff with appropriate and safe modes of transportation (e.g., bus, car, motorbikes, bicycles) – ensuring that women are consulted on decision.
       

      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 and contractors 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 local 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 staff about resolved cases and any disciplinary action taken, omitting identifying details to preserve confidentiality.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Procurement Practices

      Implement gender-inclusive procurement practices:

      • Advertise the opportunity through channels that women can also access, determined by context (e.g., radio, signboards near markets, announcements in local women’s group meetings).
      • Reduce bias in procurement by providing applicants with uniform information about the opportunity, asking potential entrepreneurs the same questions, and limiting the extent of negotiation permitted in contracting. Assumptions that women can bargain in the marketplace as freely as men, and biased valuation of men’s work above women’s, inherently underlie market rates and reproduce gender inequality in market pay rates.
      • Identify qualities needed in women who can be potential distributors of products on commission, and engage them (acknowledging they may only engage for the short-term once exhaust current network).
      • Offer trial periods to test whether the role would be a good fit. This can reduce costs associated with training and retention as only those who are more qualified and committed receive continued support.
      • Strive for gender balance on the internal team of procurement professionals. More women employees sourcing can lead to greater gender equity in procurement deals.
       

      Professional Development & Skill Building

      Provide entrepreneurs with initial and ongoing support:

      • Provide an entrepreneur starter package (e.g., product samples, marketing materials).
      • Provide incentives and opportunities for successful women to share experiences, recruit new women as distributors, and take on leadership roles.
      • Create a tiered system of accountability.
      • Offer training and field-based mentorship opportunities to build skills related to customer interaction (with content and format tailored to women’s and men’s needs).
       

      Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment

      Support access to finance for female entrepreneurs and sales agents:

      • Engage women as micro-entrepreneurs or sales agents for the distribution company itself, e.g. in distributing door-to-door or in village kiosks. Leveraging women’s skills in communication can raise awareness on the health, environmental, and time saving benefits of clean energy products for women and girls.
      • Facilitate female entrepreneurs’ access to working capital through structuring contracts to enable up-front payments, providing or linking to microfinance, and/or supporting group formation for village savings and loan associations (VSLAs).
      • Provide direct payments into the bank accounts of female entrepreneurs, 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 satisfaction and participation in the supply chain.
      • Train women borrowers on financial management.
      • Ensure women have equal access to innovative finance mechanisms (e.g., loans, consignment, credit).
      • When working with financial institutions, provide financial support to reduce risk and conduct education / advocacy to increase ability and willingness to lend to women entrepreneurs.
      • Organize women borrowers into groups or networks.
      • Create flexible terms such as low interest rates and small repayment amounts.
       

      Addressing gender-based violence & harassment

      • Consider safety needs of female entrepreneurs and distribution agents traveling to sell products and interact with customers. For example, have male and female seller(s) travel together when/if needed (e.g., in collecting payments from male customers who have not been paying).
      • Provide field agents with appropriate and safe modes of transportation (e.g., bus, car, motorbikes, bicycles) – ensuring that women are consulted on decision.
       

      Other

      Consider field logistics such as through the following:

      • Engage intermediaries for transportation services.
      • Create central product hubs to access and sell products, as well as where maintenance and service of products can occur.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Know Your [Female] Customer

      Research typical end-users of various energy products in order to market effectively to various consumer segments:

      • Collect and analyze sex-disaggregated data on product usage and customer segmentation to understand differentiated needs and interests.
      • Tailor marketing messages, payment methods, and promotions to meet the needs of women (and men), addressing the different ways in which women and men use, or could benefit from using off-grid energy.
      • Where relevant, specifically market products/services to female customers to capitalize on women’s purchasing power. For example, leverage female sales agents to market to savings groups and other women’s networks, while also raising awareness on the health, environmental, and time saving benefits of clean energy products for women and girls.
      • Create payment plans and costing structures to make products/services accessible to low-income, often female-headed, households. Work with customers who miss payments to create a more feasible payment plan.
      • Ensure external commmunications materials and marketing messages appeal to both male and female customers. Research gender and social norms to understand how to best communicate to women and men consumers, and adapt in different contexts. Revise external communications and marketing to contain gender neutral and/or gender equitable language and photos. Ensure customer depictions in advertising materials reflect the full range of customer diversity.
      • In areas where it is not considered acceptable for a man to be in a woman’s home without her husband / other family members present, dispatch women employees (e.g., as technicians) for residential installation and/or maintenance requests.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advocacy for Gender Equity in Power

      Advocate and contribute to thought leadership:

      • Conduct social marketing campaigns alongside promotions so families understand how clean energy products are healthier, more environmentally friendly, and save labor / time for girls and women in particular.
      • Write articles, join coalitions, or speak in public forums about how gender equity is impacted by off-grid energy products and services.
       

      Contribute to Community Assets

      • Install energy systems that can be publicly accessed and used (e.g., for community facilities, street lighting). This can also increasing goodwill, brand equity, and demand for products among women and men at the household level.
      • Provide local communities with requisite skills and assets to benefit from increased energy access. For example, train women in financial literacy and provide microloans to establish shops and restaurants nearby. If the community will achieve greater access to energy, provide vocational training for female community members to leverage energy for home-based entrepreneurial activities.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Company Board

      • Support and maintain diversity on the board of directors prioritizing a minimum of 2-3 female directors to avoid the perverse effect of apparent “tokenism”.
    • Key

      • 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:

      • 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, and how policies may be used differently by men and women (e.g., flexible work or leave).
       

      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.
      • Develop outreach programs with educational institutions that lead to attraction of both male and female 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).
      • 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.
      • Screen for qualities that may be important for after-sales service / the position (e.g., motivation, ability to thrive in customer interactions) as opposed to education and job history to avoid excluding talented candidates. Socio-cultural norms and lower education levels may have precluded women from typical precursor jobs.
      • 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
      • Offer a trial period to test whether the role would be a good fit. This can reduce costs associated with training and retention as only those who are more qualified and committed receive continued support.
       

      Professional development & skill building

      Develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent with equitable opportunities to build skills and advance:

      • Provide ongoing training and field-based mentorship opportunities to build skills related to sales and customer interaction. Ensure all professional development and career advancement opportunities meet the needs of, and are accessible to and used by both men and women.
      • Ensure training curriculum covers both hard/technical skills and soft skills needed in the job.
      • Tailor training content and delivery style to female agents to increase effectiveness of knowledge/skills transfer. Consider: timing, location, language of instruction, in-person vs. remote (to help female employees overcome mobility and time constraints), provision of transportation and childcare, and use of female trainers (including in training videos).
       

      Facilitate ongoing support and networking opportunities among female agents:

      • 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 agents 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).
       

      Pay equity

      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.
      • Consider how payment mechanisms can meet the needs of female and male agents. For example, while male sales agents might be more motivated by higher commission with a relatively low base salary, female sales agents may prefer a more stable base salary with lower commission levels.
      • 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 agents, 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 satisfaction and retention.
       

      Flexible work and care

      • 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, compressed work week, and/or telecommuting or working from home.
      • 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).
      • Support access to child and dependent care, such as 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.
       

      Offer flexible work arrangements for pregnant women and mothers who travel for work:

      • In cases where a job may potentially be harmful or physically challenging for pregnant women, allow a modified schedule or temporary job reassignment at full pay, and proactively communicate that there will be no penalty upon returning to previous role.
      • Particularly for mothers, provide flexibility in travel requirements, distribution activities, and scheduling meetings.
      • Consider allowing staff to travel with their children and children’s caregivers to enable female agents to balance work and care responsibilities.
       

      Health and 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.
      • Support new mothers’ return to work by providing a private rest area or lactation room for breastfeeding/pumping.
      • 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).
       

      Consider safety and transportation needs for work-related travel:

      • Consider safety needs of female agents traveling to service products and interact with customers. For example, have male and female colleague(s) travel together when/if needed.
      • Provide field staff with appropriate and safe modes of transportation (e.g., bus, car, motorbikes, bicycles) – ensuring that women are consulted on decision.
       

      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 and contractors 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 local 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 staff about resolved cases and any disciplinary action taken, omitting identifying details to preserve confidentiality.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Procurement Practices

      Implement gender-inclusive procurement practices:

      • Advertise the opportunity through channels that women can also access, determined by context (e.g., radio, signboards near markets, announcements in local women’s group meetings).
      • Reduce bias in procurement by providing applicants with uniform information about the opportunity, asking potential entrepreneurs the same questions, and limiting the extent of negotiation permitted in contracting. Assumptions that women can bargain in the marketplace as freely as men, and biased valuation of men’s work above women’s, inherently underlie market rates and reproduce gender inequality in market pay rates.
      • Identify qualities needed in women who can be potential sellers / distributors of products on commission, and engage them (acknowledging they may only engage for the short-term once exhaust current network).
      • Offer trial periods to test whether the role would be a good fit. This can reduce costs associated with training and retention as only those who are more qualified and committed receive continued support.
      • Strive for gender balance on the internal team of procurement professionals. More women employees sourcing can lead to greater gender equity in procurement deals.
       

      Professional Development & Skill Building

      Provide entrepreneurs with initial and ongoing support:

      • Provide an entrepreneur starter package (e.g., product samples, marketing materials).
      • Provide incentives and opportunities for successful women to share experiences, recruit new women, and take on leadership roles.
      • Create a tiered system of accountability.
      • Offer training and field-based mentorship opportunities to build skills related to customer interaction (with content and format tailored to women’s and men’s needs).
       

      Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment

      Support access to finance for female entrepreneurs:

      • Engage women as micro-entrepreneurs or agents for the service company itself, e.g. in village kiosks or responding to residential requests. Leveraging women’s skills in communication can raise awareness on the health, environmental, and time saving benefits of clean energy products for women and girls.
      • Facilitate female entrepreneurs’ access to working capital through structuring contracts to enable up-front payments, providing or linking to microfinance, and/or supporting group formation for village savings and loan associations (VSLAs).
      • Provide direct payments into the bank accounts of female entrepreneurs, 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 satisfaction and participation in the supply chain.
      • Train women borrowers on financial management.
      • Ensure women have equal access to innovative finance mechanisms (e.g., loans, consignment, credit).
      • When working with financial institutions, provide financial support to reduce risk and conduct education / advocacy to increase ability and willingness to lend to women entrepreneurs.
      • Organize women borrowers into groups or networks.
      • Create flexible terms such as low interest rates and small repayment amounts.
       

      Addressing gender-based violence & harassment

      • Consider safety needs of female entrepreneurs and agents traveling to service products and interact with customers. For example, have male and female seller(s) travel together when/if needed.
      • Provide field agents with appropriate and safe modes of transportation (e.g., bus, car, motorbikes, bicycles) – ensuring that women are consulted on decision.
       

      Other

      Consider field logistics such as through the following:

      • Engage intermediaries for transportation services.
      • Create central product hubs to access and sell products, as well as where maintenance and service of products can occur.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Know Your [Female] Customer

      Consider gender and social norms in after-sales service provision:

      • Incorporate gender considerations into provision of after-sales service for users of the product/service. For example, in areas where it is not considered acceptable for a man to be in a woman’s home without her husband / other family members present, dispatch women employees e.g., as technicians) to conduct maintenance visits in households.

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