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Embedding gender impact assessments into your organisation

How to make gender impact assessments business as usual.

About this resource

This resource is designed to support people leading gender equality work in their organisation in creating an enabling environment for staff to complete gender impact assessments (GIAs). It offers guidance to help build workforce capability and set up systems and structures to embed GIAs in business as usual.

Duty to promote gender equality

Under section 7 of the Gender Equality Act 2020 (Act), defined entities have a positive duty to promote gender equality. This means, in addition to undertaking GIAs on relevant policies, programs or services, your organisation needs to:

Along with the requirement to conduct gender impact assessments, this duty will ensure the Victorian public sector, local councils and universities make lasting and genuine progress towards gender equality across our community.

Embedding GIAs as business as usual

GIA work cannot be the responsibility of one person or area alone. Staff from all levels should be able to support GIA work. Global evidence shows practical ways that staff can work together to apply a gender lens to policy, program, or service design. These learnings can help your organisation embed GIAs into business as usual.

1. Securing leadership and workforce commitment to GIAs

It is important to foster workforce commitment to promoting gender equality so that your organisation is compliant under the Act. Engaging with leaders in your organisation will help build an understanding of and commitment to GIAs. Building staff understanding and accountability for their obligation to undertake GIAs will also help them consider when and how to do GIAs. You will need to explain the goals of a GIA, the process, and the reporting requirements to your workforce. There are many ways to do this, but consider using both top-down (where leadership teams drive change) and bottom-up (empowering staff at different levels of the organisation) approaches.

By themselves, both top-down and bottom-up approaches are useful and effective in embedding strategies. But together, they complement one another to encourage GIA commitment at all levels.

Building buy-in and commitment

To start, it is important to help staff understand the importance of gender equality and GIAs. This knowledge is necessary for applying either a top-down or bottom-up approach.

Our website features many resources explaining the importance of GIAs. Consider using these, as they help demonstrate the value of conducting GIAs. These resources, coupled with findings from your workplace gender audit and Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP), can be presented to leadership and other teams to assist in building the understanding of the need for GIAs and your legislated obligation to undertake them.

  • GIA Champions

    Call for staff who are passionate about gender equality and have completed GIAs to be your GIA champions. These people can share their knowledge and learnings with other staff doing GIAs. This could be a good leadership development opportunity for staff in addition to their current role.

    Subscribe to the Commission’s newsletter

    Encourage staff to subscribe to the Commission’s monthly newsletter to get updates and resources on GIAs. This will help keep GIAs top of mind and build knowledge.

    Internal GIA working groups

    Consider setting up an internal GIA working group. Working groups create a space to share learnings, identify opportunities and solutions. This group could be made up of your GIA champions or staff that are already working on gender equality. It could be a group made up of representatives from different teams to support the rollout of GIAs and also the implementation of your Gender Equality Action Plan.

    A public health service established an internal GIA working group. The group is made up of a senior representative from each area of the organisation. This includes senior staff from Research, Policy and Capital Works. Each representative considers how they can embed GIA steps into their existing workflows. This includes exploring how to streamline approval processes for GIA recommendations.

    Gender Equality communities of practice

    Joining a community of practice (CoP) will help staff who are leading gender equality work to connect with staff in similar roles in other organisations and share information and ideas.

    The Commission works with CoPs to support GIAs and assist entities in meeting their obligations under the Act. A number of these are industry-specific CoPs that have been set up by defined entities. The Communities of Practice page on our website provides details of each CoP, including membership, meeting frequency and how to join a CoP in your sector.

  • Set performance goals

    Consider including a GIA goal in staff professional development plans. Setting performance or development goals for staff can support GIA work and ensure accountability for obligations under the Act.

    Job descriptions

    Include the responsibility to undertake GIAs in position descriptions. Accountability for overseeing GIAs and the responsibility to support the organisation to meet its obligations under the Act could also be included in manager’s position descriptions. This makes the role’s expectations clear and builds buy-in from the start.

    A Victorian Government Department has expanded its Performance and Development Plans for people in leadership positions. They now include specific performance measures, including:

    • completing GIAs on all policies, programs and services, as required under the Act
    • supporting team capability building around GIAs and other obligations under the Act.

    Mandate of key committees

    Include GIAs in the mandate of relevant key committees. This will ensure an ongoing commitment to meet obligations. It will also serve to remind staff of the importance and need to complete GIAs.

    Distribute CGEPS resources through regular internal messaging

    We have created an online Gender Impact Assessment Hub. It contains useful products, toolkits and templates for GIA work. These resources will support you and your organisation to complete GIAs and meet the obligations under the Act. These products could also be distributed to staff and used for internal GIA communications.

    When sharing these resources and information, it is important to focus on the ‘why’. Talk about the benefits of doing GIAs. Try to ensure GIA messaging communicates a culture of continuous improvement and learning. This will help address any fears staff may have about ‘getting it wrong’.

    We recently produced a short video explaining why GIAs are important. It illustrates how policies, programs and services can affect people of different genders in different ways. We recommend sharing the link to build understanding about GIAs. You may also find it helpful to share our short case study video. This explains the four steps involved in a GIA.

    We have developed a slide deck to build awareness of the Case for Change. A case for change is a collection of evidence that presents reasons for change and the risks of not changing. You may find it useful for briefing leadership teams and the wider workforce about your organisation’s obligations under the Act.

    You may want to include GIAs in your organisation’s newsletters. If you’re looking for content, the Commission’s monthly newsletter is a great place to start.

    Add GIAs to the agenda

    Include GIAs as a regular agenda item at staff meetings. This is especially important for meetings at the organisational or leadership level. It will ensure accountability for GIAs across leaders and staff. Holding these conversations will also normalise and embed GIAs into business as usual.

    Develop case studies

    Convert completed GIAs into case studies. Case studies show how GIAs have been applied to real-life policies, programs, or services within your organisation. It will be particularly useful for staff to see how policies, programs or services were developed or varied to:

    • meet the needs of people of different genders
    • promote gender equality
    • address gender inequality.

    The Commission has compiled a range of GIA case studies that show how different organisations have completed GIAs and the steps and actions taken as a result of the assessment. It may be helpful to refer to these when writing your own case studies.

    Celebrate successes

    Showing that your organisation values GIAs will encourage active buy-in from staff. This will also reinforce the importance of conducting GIAs. You can show this value by recognising and sharing wins. Try spotlighting GIA successes at all-staff meetings or within internal communications. Showcase and celebrate GIA work, the actions taken and how this work promotes gender equality.

2. Embed into existing processes and structures

Rather than being established as new and standalone processes, many principles of GIAs complement existing processes and structures and can easily be integrated. Embedding GIAs into existing business processes will enable assessments to become business as usual.

  • Instead of developing new workflows, build the steps of GIAs into existing processes and checklists used by staff, such as those used for developing or reviewing policies, programs, or services. Doing so will help alleviate some of the concerns about GIAs adding to existing workloads.

  • Step two of the GIA process calls for evidence gathering and stakeholder consultation. If your organisation has existing community consultation processes, you can use the guidance in the GIA toolkit to apply a gender lens to these processes. This means you will be better prepared to undertake inclusive community consultation that represents diverse perspectives to inform your GIAs.

  • Include GIAs into briefing or approval templates. Not only will this lessen the impact of adding to executive approval processes, it may also later help strengthen executive support of the recommendations arising from the GIA.

3. Establish systems of prioritisation and decision-making

Setting up decision-making systems can assist staff in understanding which policies, programs or services will require a GIA. Refer to our Determine if a gender impact assessment is required webpage to assess if your policy, program or service has a direct and significant impact on the public and if it will require a GIA.

  • Develop a decision tool matrix, checklist, or flowchart to help your organisation assess and determine which policies, programs and services will require a GIA. These steps can help staff consider the scope and assess if the impacts of the policy, program or service are direct and significant for the public. This will ensure that your staff and the organisation are doing GIAs on public facing policies, programs, and services that will promote gender equality and address gender inequality.

  • Identify who will be responsible for approving GIA recommendations. This could be a senior executive or multiple approvers. You could develop a governance framework to outline who has sign-off or input in making these decisions. Your organisation may already have existing processes or channels that staff can use to get GIA recommendations approved.

  • Identify and engage the right entity and team responsible for doing the GIA. This is important as some organisations may outsource parts of their policies, programs and services.

    For example, a governing agency may subcontract another organisation to deliver a program. Here, those responsible for the program design must complete the GIA. In this case, it will be the governing agency, not the subcontractor delivering the program. If both organisations are defined entities, they must both still uphold their duty to promote gender equality.

  • Encourage an ‘if not, why not?’ approach towards GIAs. Even GIAs on policies, programs, and services with smaller impacts on the public can lead to positive change for people of all genders. This will help build the confidence and skills of staff in doing GIAs.

4. Provide ongoing resourcing, training, and guidance

Help managers and staff understand the purpose, steps and requirements of a GIA. While one-off training can lay the foundations, ongoing resourcing, training, and guidance will be necessary to build capability and ensure new staff are equipped to undertake GIAs. The GIA process will be new to most people, so sharing learnings, tools and good practices on a regular basis will build staff and manager capability and make the most of time and resources.

  • For staff with limited experience, it can be hard to understand how a policy, program or service may reinforce gender inequality. To support such staff, you may wish to consider providing introductory gender equality training as a starting point.

    The following training is available to help build essential gender equality knowledge:

  • Include GIAs as mandatory e-learning as part of onboarding new staff or when you conduct all-staff training. This will provide all staff with essential knowledge about GIAs and normalise GIA work as business as usual.

    Consider key points at which new policies, programs or services will be developed (for example, business planning or budget periods). Consider tailoring communications and training during these periods to include GIA elements.

  • Work with other organisations that are also doing GIAs. Tap in to existing networks or working groups in which learnings and resources are shared. Such groups may assist in finding solutions to tricky GIA issues.

    A group of public health entities partnered to bid for collective funding to work with external consultants to co-design a suite of tailored GIA e-learning modules. Pooling their resources enabled them to design a program which worked well for everyone.
  • Create a centralised online hub for your staff to access GIA resources, report on GIAs and the results of GIAs. Previous GIAs may have information that is useful when conducting new GIAs, particularly data sources and recommendations.

    A Victorian Government Department has created a centralised GIA hub using Microsoft SharePoint. It contains GIA resources and a Microsoft form for staff to report on completed GIAs. Staff can use the hub to view examples of GIAs completed in other areas of the department to help build staff knowledge.

5. Establish mechanisms for accountability and monitoring

Having clear mechanisms for GIA monitoring and accountability is important to ensuring your organisation is meeting its obligations. Consider the opportunities to embed GIA processes into the ways your organisation currently tracks compliance with its legislative obligations in your organisation.

  • There may be committees and working groups already established in the organisation that are accountable for compliance, monitoring and evaluation. You may be able to add the responsibility to meeting the Act’s obligations, monitoring and evaluation of GIAs into the terms of reference for these bodies.

    Such groups may include:

    • the Board or Executive Management Committee of your organisation
    • the Quality, Compliance and Risk Committee
    • the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

    Failure to undertake GIAs creates risk. For example, if you don’t do GIAs, your organisation:

    • won’t comply with the obligations under the Act
    • will undermine your commitment to gender equality
    • will risk how the public sees your organisation
    • may perpetuate existing gender inequalities through your work
    • may not be delivering policies, programs and services that are effective for the community.

    Making leaders and staff aware of these risks, and helping them understand how to mitigate them can help create buy-in.

  • Add GIAs to your organisation’s current evaluation and compliance frameworks. This will help you when developing or reviewing policies, programs and services. It will also help you to communicate expectations to your staff about the standard of GIAs your organisation requires. This will reduce uncertainty when undertaking the GIA process.

    For more information, please see the Compliance page on our website.

  • Good record keeping is important to meeting your obligations when it comes time for progress reporting. Consider establishing a reporting mechanism within the organisation or determine how your reporting process owner can capture GIAs completed through an existing reporting process. Having an internal reporting process in place will ensure that the information that is reported to the Commission is accurate.

    For more information, please see the Progress Reporting page on our website.

6. Prepare for potential resistance

You may face resistance when doing GIA work in your organisation. This can happen in any setting and can take many different forms when progressing gender equality work. It can also come from individuals or groups of any gender.

There are resources available to help you prepare for resistance:

(En)countering resistance: Strategies to respond to resistance to gender equality initiativesExternal Link

This resource from VicHealth addresses backlash and resistance to gender equality initiatives. It draws together effective tools and strategies that you can use to prepare yourself to respond to resistance.

Backlash & Buy-in: Responding to the challenges in achieving gender equalityExternal Link

This resource is from the Chief Executive Women and the Champions of Change Coalition. Leaders are the intended audience, but it is useful for all staff promoting gender equality. It explores a range of responses to change. It also provides insights on how you can encourage progress towards gender equality in your workplace.

Facing resistance in your workExternal Link

This resource by Safe and Equal provides practical guidance to support organisations. It will help you understand how to plan for resistance against gender equality initiatives at work. It also has specific information for organisations doing work preventing violence against women.

How are you embedding GIAs in your organisation?

We are keen to hear about ideas and ways that you may have approached GIAs in your organisation, such as:

  • How are you applying an intersectional lens to GIAs?
  • What approvals processes have you established to complete GIAs?
  • What are some of the ways you are supporting staff to undertake GIAs?
  • What processes or systems have you set up to capture information for progress reporting?

Please share your ideas and approaches with us or submit any questions to:

Reviewed 23 June 2023

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