Delivering Gender Equality

A Best Practices Framework for Utilities

This framework provides utilities with global best practices and practical resources to identify gaps, define objectives and establish a road map for sustained progress in integrating gender equality throughout their operations and corporate structures.

Women represent half of the world’s employment potential; effectively developing this talent is a key part of ensuring organizational competitiveness in the future. In addition, a growing body of evidence demonstrates a correlation between diversity at the executive level with a company’s performance. A recent study by McKinsey analyzed more than 1,000 companies in 12 countries and concluded that gender-diverse companies are more likely to outperform their national industry average in terms of profitability.

Despite the evidence demonstrating women’s value in the workforce, women continue to encounter structural barriers to participating in the world economy, particularly in industries traditionally dominated by men. Globally, the labor force participation rate for women is 27 percent lower than the rate for men. On average, women work fewer hours for pay or profit either because they opt to work part-time or because part-time work is the only option available to them. In some countries, gender gaps in hourly wage rates for similar work can reach 40 percent. According to World Economic Forum (WEF), with current trends, the overall global gender gap can only be closed in 108 years.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is committed to both promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and strengthening the energy and water sectors in order to fuel economic growth and social development. Through its Engendering Utilities program, USAID identified the employee life cycle as a key entry point to effecting long-lasting and impactful change within partner utilities. From attraction and talent outreach to separation and retirement, there are numerous opportunities to promote gender equality within utilities. To serve as a guide for implementing gender equity practices throughout the employee life cycle, USAID developed this Best Practices Framework.

The framework is divided into 12 categories, eight of which are part of the employee life cycle:

  1. Attraction and Talent Outreach
  2. Recruiting and Hiring
  3. Onboarding and Training
  4. Performance Management, Compensation, and Benefits
  5. Talent and Leadership Development
  6. Retention and Employee Engagement
  7. Succession Planning and Promotion
  8. Separation and Retirement

The last four categories represent organization enablers for gender equality:

  1. Policies and Grievance Management
  2. Company Performance and Reporting
  3. Corporate Communications and Branding
  4. Corporate Culture and Leadership.

Within each category, multiple best practices are outlined that are derived from an extensive literature review of global resources and complemented by lessons learned from USAID’s Engendering Utilities program. A description is provided for each best practice, as well as potential implementation challenges; examples of successful implementation; and tools, resources and templates that provide additional information on each best practice.

USAID’s Engendering Utilities program works with electricity and water utilities in developing countries to increase economic opportunities for women, improve gender equality, boost business performance, and strengthen the energy and water sectors. Through a customized best practices framework, demand-driven coaching, and a Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program, Engendering Utilities builds the capacity of utility leaders to implement gender equality interventions that increase the professional participation of women and meet their core business goals.

Launched in 2015, the Engendering Utilities program demonstrates USAID’s commitment to promote a path to self-reliance and resilience in developing countries by fostering enterprise-driven innovation, inclusive economic growth, and gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Engendering Utilities is a key activity under the U.S. Government’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which aims to reach 50 million women by 2025 through innovative and effective programs.

Date 
Monday, May 27, 2019 - 10:00pm

Last updated: September 16, 2020