Posted by Kirsten Newitt

International Women’s Day 2018: #PressforProgress

Happy International Women’s Day 2018! Achieving real progress on gender equality requires knowledge, persistence and energy. In workplaces, it means focusing on incremental change over time on societal norms and organisational culture, but also being able to identify and take advantage of particular opportunities when they arise. Everyone in the workplace can press for progress.

At Ergon, we work with a range of clients on gender equality, with activities and outputs spanning gender diagnostics, policy and strategy development, international research publications, training and hands-on support for implementing change within companies. Over the last year, we have advised on how to strengthen equal opportunity in diverse sectors (manufacturing, agribusiness, transport, energy, mining, construction, telecommunications and agribusiness) across varied geographies (Sub-Saharan Africa, SE Asia, EMENA). Below we’d like to share some of our recent work on gender and equal opportunity.


International Finance Corporation (IFC) report: The Business Case for Private Sector-supported Childcare, 2017

For as long as women remain more likely to bear care responsibilities than men, the lack of access to quality childcare is a key structural barrier to women’s equal participation in the workplace. Working with long-term partner, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, we contributed to this flagship report for IFC on the business case for employer-supported childcare, including field visits to case study companies in South African agriculture, Turkish heavy manufacturing and Kenyan telecommunications. The report outlines which childcare support models are effective, showcasing innovative examples and includes a decision-making model for capturing and analysing the business case from a company perspective.

UN Women report: The Business Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Arab States Region, 2017

In 2017, UN Women published this Ergon-drafted report which sets out the business case for women’s economic empowerment, specifically targeted at policy-makers and business in the Arab States region. It outlines how women’s economic empowerment can have a positive impact on economic development and thus be used as a strategic tool to assist policy-makers and companies to reach their growth-related goals, expanding employment opportunities for women and men alike and enriching family and community life.

Hands-on support and in-company training

Opening up leadership opportunities for women in the energy sector in Vietnam

In 2017, Ergon continued to work with Electricity Vietnam (EVN), Vietnam’s state-owned electricity provider in implementing its Gender Action Plan 2016-2020, on behalf of the World Bank. Ergon designed and launched a pilot Women in Leadership programme for EVN in October 2017, consisting of a five-day intensive training course for high-potential women, followed by a six-month mentoring programme. The pilot included targeted training and capacity-building support for HR specialists and trainers. Ergon also supported an EVN / World Bank joint technical discussion to highlight EVN’s ongoing commitment to equal opportunity and the business case for gender equality in the energy sector, with presentations on international best practice by speakers from GE Vietnam and POWERful Women (UK).

Promoting gender equality in the transport sector in Kosovo

In the summer of 2017, we completed an 18-month project for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to build the capacity of its client, Infrastructure of Kosovo Railways JSC (Infrakos), to improve the gender and age balance of its workforce. Building on tailored recommendations developed in 2016, an Ergon team returned to Kosovo in 2017 to provide additional assistance and training to the company, focusing on strategic people management and specific challenges faced by women in transport. The project culminated in a July roundtable in Pristina which brought together key national stakeholders to discuss women’s employment and equal opportunity in the sector.

ETI Gender Analysis: learning from 10 company members

Ergon supported the ETI Secretariat with their analysis of 10 ETI corporate members’ activities to promote gender equality within workplaces and global supply chains. We worked together with ETI staff, independent consultants and the University of Manchester to help shape, review, analyse and synthesise the research and pull out clear, practical recommendations for companies and ETI itself. ETI will be publishing a visual summary of the work and developing tools to help members do more for gender equality in supply chains later this year. Companies recognise the gains to be derived from a more strategic approach, and early participants are already demonstrating a changed approach as a result of their involvement.

Kosovo roundtable