Gender equality and social inclusion as a smart investment
By shifting from an economy driven by resources, cheap labour and capital to growth based on high productivity and innovation, Indonesia is making steady progress towards its 2045 vision to become a high-income nation. In pursuing its development goals within the Growth Pillar of Human Resource Development, Science, and Technology Advancement, the Government of Indonesia is envisioning labour market reforms that include increased female labour participation from 49 percent in 2015 to 65 percent by 2045. Katalis is committed to doing its part to support progress to not only a higher skilled and more adaptive labour market, but also for inclusive economic growth and development as envisioned in the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA). Throughout the program, gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) is being mainstreamed as a means to provide wider access and opportunities for everyone. Katalis’s GESI Adviser Yulia Immajati shares her thoughts on how Katalis is doing just that and how businesses can do their part.
Why is the issue of gender equality and social inclusion very important?
Gender equality and social inclusion is highly important for two essential reasons. First, it is the right thing to do because participating in and enjoying benefits from development and the economy is a fundamental right for all people, regardless of socio-cultural, socio-economic and socio-political backgrounds. This is well outlined in international covenants such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, both of which Indonesia and Australia actively support. Everybody counts despite their gender, education, socio-economic status, race, ethnicity and cultural identify, political as well as religious affiliation.
Second, addressing gender equality and social inclusion is a smart investment. Analytical work has identified the high pay-off of integrating gender equality and social inclusion into business and the economy. The more gender equal and socially inclusive, the better the economy. For example, McKinsey & Company analysed more than 1,000 companies worldwide and found that greater diversity among executive teams tends to lead to higher profits and longer-term value. Similarly, another conducted in Queensland in 2016 found that greater representation of women on boards offered tangible benefits to corporate, government, and not-for-profit organisations. More and more businesses willingly embrace GESI in their corporate policies and practices for this very reason.
How does Katalis apply the GESI lens in its work?
Katalis moves beyond simply applying a GESI lens. Katalis puts GESI at the centre of everything we do. Enhanced participation, access, and opportunities for women and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially but not limited to those with different abilities, is mainstreamed into all our trade investment and skills activities. In this regard, Katalis, in line with the policy and legal frameworks of Indonesia and Australia, adopts the twin track approaches of GESI mainstreaming and targeting. A mandatory Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, Child Protection and Safeguards Policy and Action Strategy is instituted. A GESI team provides technical support to Task Team Leaders and other staff. GESI is not an “add on” but is rather fully integrated and mainstreamed.
From a gender equality and social inclusion perspective, what are some important issues to keep in mind for businesses looking to apply for support for their activity ideas?
Interested businesses need to, and in fact businesses are starting to, realise that providing equal access and opportunities for women and those with disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those with different abilities, are not a waste of resources but a smart investment. These groups are untapped resources that, with proper policies and practices, offer sustainable benefits to companies. This is not hypothetical but is based on well-tested research, as mentioned above. Should businesses wish to apply for support from Katalis, they need to identify as to how their proposed business idea will contribute to GESI outcomes. How will the proposed business ensure equal participation, access, and opportunities for women and disadvantaged groups, such as those with different abilities? How will women and those disadvantaged groups benefit from the proposed idea? Businesses need to bear in mind that GESI is one of Katalis’s investment criteria that they need to comply with.
Change begins at home. Can you share some practical ways for businesses and other organisations to be mindful of issues around inequality and social exclusion within their own environments?
It is indeed true that change begins at home. It is also a reality that domestic chores largely remain the domain of women across the globe. More and more businesses realise this and have started to adopt friendly policies and practices such as flexi hours and day-care centres, as well as support for domestic violence survivors. Businesses may also need to adopt a rounded view of labour unions – a view that sees them as supporting partners rather than obstacles, with unions potentially utilised as peer groups to enhance skills and capacities, including for women and people with disability, and as such, productivity. Such approaches serve to foster employee loyalty and reduce staff turnover, as well as create a harmonious, inclusive working environment.