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Good consultancy on GM – how does it work?

Good consultancy on GM – how does it work?

The following remarks on consultancy goals, conditions for clients to fulfil, areas of focus for consultancy, forms of consultancy and competences of consultants are intended to help those seeking as well as those offering consultancy services for GM to get an idea of what can be expected from external consultancy and what clients must clarify beforehand (possibly with the help of consultancy).

Consultancy goals

Good consultancy on Gender Mainstreaming is geared to modifying the work of an organisation in such a way that the goal of gender equality, i.e. equal treatment of women and men, is taken account of in all aspects of the organisation.
At organisation level, good consultancy aims at gender equality orientation by means of efficient working in all routines and processes in a way that is geared to target groups. Organisational changes (competencies, processes and tools) must be adapted to the particular features of the organisation if they are to be effective. There are no pat recipes for implementing Gender Mainstreaming in an organisation.

At staff level, disregarding hierarchies, good consultancy is aimed at the acquisition of the gender competence needed for carrying out their work. Good consultancy should motivate staff and enable them to carry out their work independently in a way that takes account of gender equality.

It is essential for the sustained establishment of an orientation to gender equality in an organisation that good consultancy should fortify existing actors in gender equality and gain new ones. The goal of gender equality can only be established in an organisation in a sustained way if people in various functions, perhaps as management, or those responsible for specialist sectors or as gender equality officers, uphold it within the organisation and implement it in their work.
Good consultancy enables results to be achieved that are oriented to gender equality both at individual and organisational level. But it does not exonerate individual staff - or the organisation or parts of the organisation - from the task of paying attention to gender perspectives in their day-to-day work. External consultancy can at best give examples of the integration of gender perspectives into specialist tasks.

The goals of good consultancy are
  • to take gender equality between women and men into account at all levels
  • to pay attention to gender equality orientation by means of efficient working in all routines and processes in a way that is geared to target groups
  • to offer tailor-made solutions for each organisation
  • to motivate staff and enable them to carry out their work independently in a way that takes account of gender equality
  • to fortify existing actors in gender equality and gain new ones
  • to enable staff to carry out their duties in a way oriented to gender equality and not to lose sight of this
and pursues these goals consistently.

Conditions for clients to fulfil

External support will be all the more effective if clients fulfil certain conditions. The organisation itself must be independently convinced of the necessity to implement Gender Mainstreaming. This includes seeing consultancy on Gender Mainstreaming as a sophisticated and complex service and, when earmarking resources, orienting itself to the level of funds deployed for comparable consultancy services, e.g. for staff development, reorganisation or information technology.

That these conditions have been met and that the serious intention exists to implement GM can be seen in the fact that
  • the will to implement Gender Mainstreaming is discernible in the form for example of decisions, public statements, etc.,
  • a specific strategy for implementation is planned or already exists in the organisation (e.g. competencies),
  • the task of consultancy in the GM process is clearly defined and
  • the task appears realistic and, in terms of its scope, viable.
It is a salient feature of good consultancy that it can quickly recognise which of these requirements have been met and which are still not in place. It aims to create these conditions, even if this is not actually part of the task. If this involves greater cost, this should be made clear in a suitable way. If it is not possible to fulfil these requirements, then there is a risk that consultants may be functionalised.

Areas of focus for consultancy

For consultancy on the implementation of GM it is important for consultants to make their own areas of focus for consultancy clear. We can identify the following four areas of focus in this regard:
  • policy fields, such as legislation, reporting or budgeting
  • subject areas from senior citizens to housing
  • implementation, the procedure for introducing Gender Mainstreaming into an organisation and
  • creating awareness, by reinforcing individual capacity to perceive gender perspectives and to take them into account in a gender equality-oriented way.
As an example, this means that if there is an enquiry regarding consultancy in the area of subsidies for youth aid programmes it should be made clear whether it concerns the development of specialist gender equality goals for a subsidy programme or a matter of implementing these goals in a subsidy process. In developing goals, advice on the subject area with the requisite subject area competence is necessary, while if consultancy is to be provided on implementing in a subsidy programme, then competence in the grants policy field is necessary.

Good consultancy makes the area of focus of the consultancy it is offering clear and is also able to recognise the area of focus in question in enquiries from clients.

More on areas of focus of consultancy

Once it is clear in which area of focus there is a need for consultancy, the external support services needed to meet this and the level at which they should be deployed must be determined. This depends on the competency level within the organisation, on the degree of previous experience with gender equality issues and on the goals set by the organisation management.

Consultancy in the policy fields area of focus can, for example, be geared to supporting specialist work or developing tools. It makes a huge difference, for example, whether a local authority youth services office would like specialist support in its first gender equality-oriented guideline on subsidising youth recreational facilities or whether the labour ministry of a federal state wishes to develop a tool for taking account of gender equality perspectives in all active employment market programmes.

Consultancy in the subject areas area of focus usually relates to the various ways in which gender perspectives can be incorporated, for instance supporting specialist work in single tasks or processes with information on relevant gender aspects. It may be necessary to systematise and provide specialist gender knowledge for an entire specialist sector. It may also involve enabling staff to gain skills in gender issues themselves by means of specialist examples or providing contacts.

Consultancy services relating to the GM implementation area of focus deal with matters of procedure in introducing GM in an organisation and establishing it there in a sustained way. On the one hand, strategic advice may be needed in order to weld single steps and building blocks together into an overall concept tailored to the organisation. On the other hand, it can be advantageous to get external support for important phases of the implementation process. The possible advantage of external support is its greater experience with initiating strategic roadmaps for implementation processes and the fact that certain interventions in organisations will be accepted better if they come from persons outside the organisation.

Consultancy in the awareness creation area of focus concerns the ability of staff to strengthen an organisation, and to recognise gender aspects and assess their importance correctly.
Creation of awareness can involve
  • general social questions of gender relations
  • specialist gender issues connected with the tasks of the organisation or
  •  the internal situation and how staff (male and female) deal with each other.
Matters of personal identification with gender roles or of individual life arrangements should only be addressed in Gender Mainstreaming processes taking place in an official, professional context if the privacy of staff is respected.

External support will also be used for providing general information on GM in an organisation. Even where consultancy services are being provided on the areas of focus mentioned above, it is usually necessary to provide general information on the GM strategy so that everybody concerned is at the same starting level. But just providing information on Gender Mainstreaming is not a consultancy service.

It is a salient feature of good consultancy that it can reliably identify the area of focus and level for which consultancy services are required. At the same time it can identify whether these services are supporting the implementation of Gender Mainstreaming in the organisation in an optimal way and will if necessary make alternative suggestions.

Forms of consultancy

Once what is required of the consultancy services has been defined, i.e. whether it is, for example, more to support specialist work with reference to a policy field, or more a matter of specialist gender knowledge or strategic advice, the right form must be found for these consultancy services.
The following list of forms of consultancy is the outcome of a discussion with consultants during a conference on 27 October 2004.

Forms of consultancy and training include
  • lecture, moderated discussion, seminar
  • supervision, individual interview, coaching
  • study, evaluation
  • ongoing process assistance, scientific support
  • preparation of materials, handbook
The connection between the specific subject matter of an area of focus of consultancy services and the form in which they are provided tends to be a rather loose one. It is conceivable, for example, to give a lecture on the development of a gender-sensitive tool during the evaluation of a project. This can be done at greater depth, however, if a workshop is held on the development of the tool or process support is carried out for it.

Good consultancy means, with reference to the form in which services are provided, knowing which goals can be achieved using which forms. Good consultancy supports clients, following a clear definition of the objectives and the expectation horizon, in the selection of the right form of consultancy. In practice, though, the form of consultancy has often already been decided before external consultancy is called in. If the form in which consultancy services are to be provided and the objectives to be achieved do not match in such cases, then it is the job of good consultancy to tell the clients what the form that has been selected can do in terms of achieving the objectives.

Consultants’ competences

Good consultancy on Gender Mainstreaming requires consultants to possess a wide range of competences, which have to be developed to a different extent depending on the area of focus of consultancy.
  • Competence in Gender Mainstreaming
    It should be expected of all consultants on Gender Mainstreaming, regardless of their areas of focus or specialist orientation, that they have a thorough knowledge of the strategy of Gender Mainstreaming and the skills for implementing it. This includes knowledge of the individual elements of the strategy and their functions (tools, pilot projects, etc.) and the possibilities they offer. On this basis, they should be able to design implementation concepts starting from the typical policy fields of an organisation and to plan and support single stages for the active implementation phase.
  • Competence as actors
    As consultancy on Gender Mainstreaming is aimed at organisations, consultants must possess competence in the function of organisations. They must know how various types of organisation (public administration, companies, associations, etc.) work in terms of culture, staff, tasks, routines, power structures, etc., and take account of these various different conditions in the implementation of Gender Mainstreaming. But as well having a general knowledge of various types of organisation, this means finding out about the specifics of the organisation in which consultancy services are to be provided. Attention has to be paid to gender perspectives both where general knowledge on organisations is concerned and relating to individual cases. For instance, women still encounter particular problems in many sectors when they try to reach high management positions in large organisations. But the number of women in management positions in the organisation to be provided with consultancy services is not only indicative of the need for action on gender equality when recruiting management staff, but is also important for the credibility of Gender Mainstreaming processes and its external support.
  • Gender competence
    Consultants on Gender Mainstreaming must possess gender competence in the task fields of the organisations they advise. This gender competence has to be geared differently according to the area of focus for consultancy. If the area of focus is a subject area or the creation of awareness of specialist gender issues, there will have to be a high level of gender knowledge in that subject area. If the area of focus is a policy field, then in-depth gender knowledge on policy fields and the deployment of instruments is necessary.
  • Competence in communication
    Even if they advise on other topics, consultants must have a range of educational methods at their fingertips and possess communication skills in order to be able to fulfil their task in relation to staff at various levels in the hierarchy. These may include knowledge of widespread gender-stereotypical problems that male managers have in listening to specialist female staff. As well as paying attention to such gender perspectives in education and communication, management must realise that they way they present themselves is also vital for the credibility of gender equality policy. This can include thoughtful, non-gender-stereotypical division of labour in mixed-gender teams.
Good consultancy reviews the competences required for each task and ensures that these are brought into the consultancy process to the necessary extent.

erstellt von Administrator zuletzt verändert: 02.01.2010 20:07