| 11.01.2022

Deficits in workplace gender equality planning apparent already at the pre-planning stage

Employers who have a regular staff of at least 30 employees must draw up a gender equality plan at least every two years. However, new research reveals deficits in gender equality planning already before planning starts.

Gender equality planning is an important part of achieving actual gender equality in the workplace. In her doctoral dissertation, Canelia Wessman has investigated how gender equality plans deal with workplace gender equality issues.

"By analysing gender equality plans, I have looked at how the concrete requirements and objectives stipulated in the legislation are being met, and at what potential issues may occur as part of gender equality planning," says Wessman.

The Gender Equality Act and Finland’s national legislation actually have gender equality as their gender equality goal, as do EU legislation and the UN Convention on the Rights of Women ratified by Finland. The research shows that employers are unaware of the goal of gender equality.

"A major issue in gender equality planning, which results in deficits in gender equality planning already at the pre-planning stage, is the formal view of gender equality, i.e. that employers assume that equal treatment is sufficient. The formal view of gender equality means that the gender equality issues actually occurring in the workplace do not appear in the gender equality plans," claims Wessman.  

During salary parity needs mapping, for instance, Wessman was able to demonstrate that the difference in salary levels between the genders was largely due to vertical segregation, meaning that women were working in lower positions to men. Nevertheless, vertical segregation was neither discussed nor addressed as a gender equality issue.

"It effectively means that you can fulfill your statutory obligation as an employer to draw up a gender equality plan, but the plan still has no impact," summarizes Wessman.

You can read the doctoral thesis in full here.

Canelia Wessman will be defending her doctoral dissertation at 10:00 am (EEST) on 14 January 2022. The doctoral defence will take place online only. You can access the Teams virtual meeting by clicking on this link. The field of study is commercial law.
Opponent: Professor Matti Skoog, Åbo Akademi University
Custos: Emeritus Professor Niklas Bruun, J.D.