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Implementing the gender equality policy (GEP) in the workplace. Envisioning new values for the companies

       In view of promoting systematically and organizationally the GEP, Taipei city mayor, Ko, took the lead in promulgating among the Asian cities Dec 17 of 2018 the “Gender Equality Index in the workplace of Taipei City” (GEI). By means of the Index enacted, a company is expected to know how to review the awareness of gender equality in internal aspects for pushing forward and promoting each category of the GEP. On the same day, the Department of Labor (DOL), Taipei City Government held the labor forum titled “Implementing gender equality policy in the workplace – starting the new value of a company”. Through dialogues among sectors of industry, government and academies, the construction and value of gender equality in the workplace is to be advocated. This digital newspaper of DOL will lead readers to review the important contents of this forum.

       The forum started with the experience sharing presented by Lawyer Wang Ju-hsuan of the Evergreen International Law Firm, of which the topic was “the specific strategy of constructing domestic and foreign friendly workplaces for different genders”. Lawyer Wang took our country’s law “Act of Gender Equality in Employment” as an example, in which article 16 and 22 specify the unpaid parental leave for raising children, to open her speech.

       The work rights and benefits specified in the regulations for “Implementing unpaid Parental Leave for Raising Children” can be applied for by women as well as men. It shows that our country is moving measures from the public sector to the private sector. In the matter of policy planning for public affairs and allocations of resources, the perspectives of “gender mainstreaming” are taken into account for promoting a friendly workplace to different genders. In foreign countries, in addition to the example where the United Nations officially promoted the Gender Equality Seal Program (GES) in 2009 to narrow gender differences, various governments have adopted gender mainstreaming into their laws. New Zealand Parliament passed a bill on July 23, 2018, which has regulated a 10 day leave with pay to a victim suffering from domestic violence for them to settle themselves down. And the employer is supposed to give the victim sufficient flexibility to secure the victim’s safety. As to the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace, Lawyer Wang took the “Me Too Movement” as an example. 300 high-profile people: actress, female writers, actors, agents and entertainment industry’s top positions initiated a movement program “Times Up”. The program set up a foundation for legal defense, which supplies a victim suffering from sexual harassment with a legal subsidy. It’s expected to solve the sexual harassment which prevailingly existed in the Hollywood workplace and the American working class.

       In the next part of the forum, Director Shi Jen-Su of the Employment Security Division of the DOL gave a presentation on the topic of “Origin and its connotation of enacting regulations for the gender equality index in the workplace”.

       She started with the related measures about the promotion of gender equality implemented by the DOL in the last four years. It included promoting equal pay for each gender, supporting parents in raising children, taking measures to ensure gender equality and building friendly workplaces, as well as counseling companies and enacting the “Sexual Harassment Prevention Act”. Taipei City is devoted to the promotion of equality in the workplaces, meeting international trends, prevention of shortages in the labor population and bringing in positive benefits to companies. Taipei City has also invited industrial and academic specialists, and representatives of the Labor Union to discuss and reach a convergence in their consensus for constructing the GEI. This Index is composed of 7 major categories, and there are 28 categories in total. Based on this Index, all companies are expected to review their internal structures of their gender equality policy and rebuild a friendly workplace for gender equality. We are compiling and printing the guidance manual, preparing for a promotion meeting, calling for designs in gender equality symbols, inviting companies to join in this preparation for the competition. The Index will be completed thoroughly using a rolling correction method.

       In the third part of the forum, we invited some companies to share their experiences in facing the challenges of having promoted gender equality measures. First of all, Senior Manager Daniel Tai of Careers Division, Deloitte & Touch shared their measure’s characteristics that were being promoted, based on the GEI. It included a public commitment by the responsible person of a company in promoting the gender equality policy.

       They irregularly email every member and promote the diversified and inclusive business philosophy, and contribute to opportunity flow for internal promotion, and offer a fair system for performance evaluation and better work rotations. They take individual professional ability and work ability into consideration to help special talents develop themselves for a maximum benefit. As for the employee training, a program, 5 in all, including leadership, being consulted, languages proficiency, image and professional competence is particularly held for the female leaders in the workplace. And the professional training courses are offered for different positions. In addition to the marriage leave, menstrual leave and birthday leave, the Deloitte & Touch holds activities for Family Day and Family Sports Day. The stores selling the goods for the Chinese lunar year are invited to set up a stall before the festival, so that the employees can make purchases at their convenience. With the friendly measures for raising children, the employees not only are granted the friendly leaves based on different reasons, but also are able to file an application for an unpaid leave of up to a maximum of 2 years. Red envelopes are given out for childbirth and fruit and flower baskets are sent out to the employees to express congratulations. Infant care measures are promoted. Kindergarten Chains are entrusted with nursery care for their employee’s children and the employees could be granted some special offers. As for the workplace safety for pregnant women, a female employee working in a job which has the possibility to harm the mother’s health will be treated with necessary measures and will be given health instructions by the medical staff for protecting their health. The female employees can obtain further care. Regarding the friendly measures for gender equality in the workplace, the regulations of workplace sexual harassment prevention policy and measures, including the mechanism of complaints and punishments, are enacted and publicly promulgated to the employees. From 2007, the concept of the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) began to be introduced. The external professional consultant firms were entrusted to ensure the quality and that personal privacies would be guaranteed.

       The preceding practical implementation has been made by the Deloitte & Touch to promote the gender equality index in the workplace. The employees are the important assets for a company’s sustainable management. The promotion of measures for gender equality can be regarded as a factor for enhancing internal organization’s morals and productivities for Deloitte & Touch.

     Another invited guest, Vinka Yang, is the cofounder of Twine Fair Trade Ltd. Co. In 2017, Twine attended the activity called “Best For Taipei”, challenge for the best company in Taipei, and it was awarded the top prize. In 2018, it was honored at the 14th annual CSR Awards and the 1st annual Social Corporation Star Awards. Twine has been certified as the type B corporation. It is the only Taiwanese corporation gaining the eligibility to become a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).

       The preceding events explain that although Twine doesn’t have the scale of a big company, however, they are enthusiastic in promoting our city as the first fair trade city in the Chinese world. Being a cofounder, Vinka Yang shared his role of a manufacturer and supplier in making efforts for gender equality. Through the participation in the “Fashion Revolution”, he again reviewed the labor rights and benefits of females during the production process for “fashion products”. With the power of a company, the phenomenon of “sweat worker” is expected to be changed. Without a doubt, it will be a revolutionary business model.

     Twine made it known to its consumers that every product is completed with measures based on communicating a reasonable salary with the supplier, establishing a persistent and transparent cooperative relation with a partner, eradicating child labor and avoiding sexual discrimination. This is the concept of fair trade, with which a broader perspective can be applied to implement the existence of gender equality in the workplaces.

     The last part of the forum is the general session referring to the topic of “constructing a friendly workplace for the coming years” Professor Kuo Ling-Hwei of the Department of Law, National Taipei University, encouraged companies to utilize the GEI as a tool for inspecting. Promoting the gender equality index is not to impose on companies much more obligations.
She suggested a company make a top-down policy decision from upper management to lower level workers, and initiatively promote gender equality measures, which will be a bonus to implementation. By the way, the employee can create a creative gender equality measure and pass their ideas to the upper division. Professor Kuo, also encouraged companies to try to develop their own featured measures for gender equality for keeping their business persistent. Lawyer Wang expressed that the intention for improvement for a company will be reflected on the business policy. And that intention reflects that the company is willing to work hard together with its employees. The friendly gender measures depend on a company’s attributes to decide on implementations. The concept of “Female first” is not always the only way.

       Finally, Director of the DOL concluded that the these experiences sharing of promoting gender equality measures made by the companies have shown to us that it is the right policy of promoting the “gender equality index in the workplace of Taipei City”. From making a draft to gradually maturing in this issue, we have listened to the company’s experience and their questions, so that the Index can be practically and thoroughly implemented in every business. All over the world, the strategies of gender equality in the workplace are being promoted. Our thoughts about the management concept of a company are being turned around. We are persisting in helping companies who can take any measures to increase their female labor power. Our task also includes changing people’s stereotypes of a female role, as well as strengthening the parenting mechanism. The Taipei City Government and business companies get together to build up Taipei as a metropolitan city of gender equality.