Gender Mainstreaming

April 2011

Dear clients,

Engagement is strategically important for organisations as numerous studies have proven its impact on the bottom-line and sustainability. ”A successful employee engagement strategy helps create a community at the workplace and not just a workforce. When employees are effectively and positively engaged with their organisation, they form an emotional connection with the company. This affects their attitude towards both their colleagues and the company’s clients and improves customer satisfaction and service levels” (

In this edition of the LeMaSa Chronicle we highlight the role that team development can play in creating a more engaged workforce. We also look at the concept of Gender Mainstreaming.

I wish you success in building an optimal workforce. Enjoy the long holidays during April!


Sandra Schlebusch

Gender Mainstreaming
Gender Mainstreaming

According to Unesco (, Gender Mainstreaming was defined by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1997 as 'a strategy for making women's as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of.the policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated.'

“Mainstreaming” differs from Employment Equity or Affirmative Action in the sense that it is a process, rather than a goal. The aim of the mainstreaming process is to bring what can be seen as marginal (e.g. the voice of women) into the core business and main decision-making processes of an organization. It is therefore a comprehensive strategy that considers and addresses the experiences, needs and priorities of men and women in all institutions, policies and programmes, throughout the programme cycle.

The main reasons why Gender Mainstreaming was introduced were:

§ Equality objectives institutions are changed;

§ Although they will always have a place, projects aimed solely at women do not necessarily promote male-female equality as they often do no address the underlying reasons for gender disparities

§ Equal treatme nt does not guarantee equal results.

Gender Mainstreaming is therefore more effective in terms of ensuring gender equality, as it does not rely on women-only programmes and institutions, but rather makes gender issues part of the main agenda. The process ensures that women and men have equitable access to resources (including opportunities and rewards). The intent is not that gender should become the predominant theme, nor the only category of analysis when implementing a project or programme, but that gender is one of the many other relevant cross-cutting issues taken into account, such as the environment and other diversity issues.

The process of Gender Mainstreaming is especially important when designing and implementing organisation design and development interventions. We often design and develop organisatons without considering the different roles, responsibilities, experiences and between women and men in relation to the issue being addressed.

Gender Mainstreaming is not a new concept, but in South Africa our focus was more on ensuring that we meet numeric targets with regards to female representation and we did not necessarily focus on bringing gender issues into the mainstream of programmes and institutions. By introducing the Gender Mainstreaming approach, we will ensure that institutions, policies, programmes and projects respond to the needs and interests of all members of society, and distribute benefits equitably between men and women.

Contact LeMaSa if you need any assistance with Gender Mainstreaming initiatives in your organization.

Team Development
Teams develop as a result of the individuals who group together or identify with the team goals. Seen as a process, team building is not essential for the survival of the team, but does create the conditions for the team members to learn how to cope with the complexities of the tasks that they are responsible for and initiate changes where necessary. The benefits of teambuilding are: · Greater commitment of the team to organisational goals, because of a greater awareness of what is expected from them; · More innovative behaviour, because time is taken to identify opportunities for improvement; · More productive teams, because the team has clear goals and objectives and has achieved total alignment to the goals by the individual team members. The team has learnt to leverage individual competencies and strengths to ensure better performance; · The team improves its interpersonal effectiveness, ensuring more productivity; · In a fast-paced environment, team-building exercises provide one of the few opportunities for all team members to spend quality clock time together to plan and re-plan strategy and to participate in the decision-making process; · In a diverse environment it is also sometimes necessary to address various interpersonal issues in the team. If this is not done accusations of racism, etc. could result; · Teams get the opportunity to clarify roles and responsibilities and to identify aspects that might be falling through the cracks; · Where the retention of staff is important, it is necessary to ensure that teams function effectively, as research has shown that identification with a good team is a factor in staff retention; · Teambuilding helps to get new teams productive more quickly; · Teambuilding helps to address conflict issues in teams and to revitalise a complacent team; · Teambuilding helps to create better inter-team relationships; · Team members get to know each others’ individual styles and personality preferences, creating more tolerance and less negative conflict. In general, if facilitated properly (not just a fun session) teambuilding could assist greatly in improving the overall performance of the organisation. 1. What is meant by Team Development? Team building is the process whereby the team is educated to become skilled in working together effectively and to diminish or control the factors which may prevent the team from functioning as per the definition above. It involves five distinct stages (Manspec, 1992): · Task interdependence assessment: Are we by definition a team? (various surveys are available to assess this) · Alignment: Where are we going? (developing team vision, mission, values, goals, objectives, targets, action plans, norms of success, rewards) Alignment is a condition in which people operate as an integrated whole. Alignment is crucial for two reasons: · It binds a group of disparate individuals into a common body wherein each feels that his or her contribution matters · Highly aligned teams can produce results most people think impossible. Their sense of relationship and even of self may shift · Roles: Who does what? (clarifying task roles/responsibilities, role discrepancies, mutual expectations, division of labour, authority limits, etc) In order for a team to function effectively it is important that each team member understands and clarifies his/her role in the team as well as those of other team members. Activities may include role analysis, role negotiation, role mapping and responsibility charting. · Procedures: How will the work be done? (defining the role of the team leader, operating procedures, policies, decision making, problem solving, and planning procedures, how meetings will be conducted, etc) The procedural part of team development refers to the stage in the process during which team members step back from the actual work and look at HOW they get their work done, how they function as a group, and the procedures they need to use to achieve their objectives. · Relationships: How will we work together? (interpersonal styles and interaction, giving and receiving feedback, team communication and participation, assertiveness, responsiveness, coping strategies, developing and maintaining trust relationships, conflict resolution, relating to other teams) When people get together with the objective of achieving common results, we find a set of complex interpersonal relationships developing. These relationships have a definite bearing on goal achievement and should be managed to ensure that it facilitates achievement of the expected task results. 2. Our approach to team development Once the decision has been made to proceed with the team development process, careful planning of the activities is critical if they are to be truly effective in improving the team’s performance. Some considerations to take into account: · Ascertain the team’s need and readiness for team development. Here we do proper diagnostics beforehand to identify the exact needs for teambuilding. Employees are required to complete two diagnostic questionnaires beforehand that we process and formalise into a report with the exact recommendations for the next steps. This phase is also used to create awareness of the teambuilding session and to position it optimally for increased buy-in by the agents. · Interactive sessions are suggested and the following aspects will be covered based on the information gathered during the diagnostic phase: Task Interdependence; Alignment; Roles; Procedures; Relationships. The sessions are highly interactive with experiential exercises forming the basis for reflection. · We then assess the results of the team development activities through a follow-up questionnaire three months later. · We can also assist with follow-up: Plan renewal activities. Treat team development is a continuous process and not a once-off intervention.