Mainstreaming gender equality is a no brainer

9 May 19

Ensuring a diverse workforce will improve public financial management and foster creativity, writes Gillian Fawcett of Public Finance by Women.

Before introducing new policies, codes of practice or guidance or reviewing existing policies public bodies should review these through a gender lens so that gender equality becomes mainstream.

Public Finance by Women (PFW) is a new organisation focused on creating the first global network for women working in the field of public finance to improve career chances and opportunities for women.

We believe that while supporting women to fulfil their potential, engendering public finance is of equal importance if gender equality is to be rooted in everything we do.

No public or regulatory policies, including codes of practice and/or guidance, are gender neutral and they need to be scrutinized through a gender lens. In many countries and parts of the public sector there is still a lot of work to do to convince stakeholders that existing policies and/or codes of practice are not gender neutral.

Delivering global commitments towards gender equality, such as Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5), requires positively including a gender perspective across the full policy framework including codes of financial practice so that inclusion and diversity is mainstreamed.

At this point in time when public bodies are facing severe financial pressures, initiatives such as new financial management codes should be welcomed as they encourage good practice in the short, medium and long terms, and support financial sustainability.

There is strong evidence to suggest that diverse organisations perform better, are more sustainable and benefit from accessing a wider talent pool and fostering creative ideas.

The proposed CIPFA code of financial management for local government is a good example.

However, initiatives such as this should be reviewed at the outset through a gender lens, otherwise they fall short on many levels and stop organisations from realising the benefits of integrating diversity and inclusiveness into everything they do. 

The IMF recently reported that gender inclusiveness can help magnify the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal policies, and we believe that this is also the case for ensuring strong financial management in public services.

The argument for mainstreaming diversity and inclusiveness into policies, codes and guidance is a no brainer.

There is strong evidence to suggest that diverse organisations perform better, are more sustainable and benefit from accessing a wider talent pool and fostering creative ideas. It is good for public services and improving service outcomes.

Upskilling finance is also not just about having a mix of unqualified and qualified staff. It is also about having a diverse workforce of both women and men.

Financial management will benefit from a wider set of skills, an improved talent pool, and sustainable workforce. In any organisation the role of the Chief Finance Officer is an important one in encouraging diversity and inclusion with the finance function with regular review alongside skills. A Chief Finance Officer should lead and inspire diversity.

While public sector bodies follow the seven Nolan principles of good governance, we would argue that there should be an eighth – diversity and inclusiveness. This would align the governance principles to those of a modern organisation and help shape and strengthen the culture, governance, ethics and performance of an organisation.

One of the biggest leadership adjustments that need to be made by managers and leaders relates to being more in tune with diversity and equality.

This means modern day leaders should be adjusting their leadership styles for a variety of experiences and challenges.

It’s not rocket science, particularly given the strong case being made by a number of organisations for diversity and equality contributing to performance success and facilitating transformation.

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