A historic milestone in achieving gender parity in UNICEF
Women comprise more than 48 per cent of UNICEF's senior level staff, positioning the Organization within the gender parity threshold of the United Nations (47/53 per cent)
For the first time ever, UNICEF is within the gender parity threshold (47/53 per cent) of the United Nations. Women hold more than 48 per cent of the Organization's senior (P5) level positions.
The results were reported within less than two years since UNICEF launched a set of temporary special measures to achieve gender parity at the senior level, in October 2020 - a historic milestone in achieving gender parity! This represents one step further in our journey to make our workplace more gender-equal, and numbers are only one part of a larger effort.
Achievements in a challenging environment
Over the last decade, the challenge to grow the proportion of women at the P5 level remained persistent. P5, a rank that - across the UN system - is equivalent to a position as Chief of Section, is widely considered the first senior management level.
Despite having reached parity in lower and higher levels, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the progress. The health crisis pushed more women to leave the organization, resulting to the gap growing wider.
The context that triggered action
Different factors led UNICEF to take action. First, the special measures was part of the implementation of the EDGE Action Plan 2022-2024 on gender equality at the workplace. Second, the decision followed the guidance coming from the UN System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity.
In addition, the measures aligned with our effort to eliminate gender biases in P5 recruitments, as well as the extensive knowledge we have today about the impact a more gender-diverse workforce has on our programmes for children and families.
What we learned
While the special measures have been instrumental in reaching gender parity, they have contributed in other ways to building a more inclusive UNICEF. During this time, we learned how pervasively gender biases are present in recruitment processes, how to tackle them proactively, and how important it is to conduct talent outreach that is directed to a variety of groups, both inside UNICEF and externally. We also know that having more work flexibility and better policies to support work-life harmony are critical to attract gender-diverse candidates, and to retain them.
“Change happens when people and leaders come together with clear strategies and accountabilities. We continue working to role model the world we want for women and children.”
Associate Director, Gender Equality
“With clear targets, focus and mobilization, we move in the right direction. A healthy team is a diverse one, bringing together different perspectives and approaches to contribute to results for children”.
co-lead of Gender Push,
Deputy Director, Supply Division
“UNICEF's commitment towards gender parity at the most senior levels is unwavering. The results are evidence that we can shatter the thickest glass ceilings if we take focalized actions”.
Division of Human Resources
How to make change sustainable
While UNICEF has just been re-certified with the EDGE standard of gender equality at the workplace, the process identified important gender gaps in the perception of employees around issues related to the workplace. In certain areas, women reported lower satisfaction than men.
Striving to do more and do better
Responding to this data, UNICEF's new Action Plan envisions changes to our family-related policies, investments in the capacity-building of our staff, and tailored talent management initiatives, among other actions. We will continue to monitor perceptions of unfairness and bias in talent management, and create opportunities for feedback from female staff and staff of diverse genders.
The new plan on gender equality at the workplace will also focus on building a diverse pool of talent at different levels in some traditionally male-dominated areas, not just looking at recruitment but also at career development, access to critical opportunities and family-friendly policies.
Moving forward, UNICEF is committed to look into intersectional data, looking for patterns of inclusion and exclusion in different groups (e.g., by gender identity, race/ethnicity, age, disability, etc.) in an effort to complement the Action Plan.
“Having an environment that is gender diverse enhances effectiveness, accuracy and objectivity of team decisions; analytical thinking; innovation and creativity; and the ability to deal with complexity.”
Deputy Executive Director, Management
“A workplace that is skewed toward one gender or another is likely to be skewed away from delivering in an inclusive way. This is why gender parity is critical to an organization's development”.
Deputy Representative, Pakistan
“Gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment are cornerstones of our programming, so for me it’s obvious: we need gender parity in our workforce and, especially at the decision-making table.
Director, Programme Group
“It is important that qualified women from all walks of life continue to emerge as senior leaders and contribute their voices to shape the organization and uphold the rights of children”.