Decent work means decent work for women

You can’t build a decent work movement in the nonprofit sector without women

By: Pamela Uppal and Randall Terada, Decent Work Team, Ontario Nonprofit Network

Shining a GBA+ light on decent work

The fact that we have a highly feminized workforce changes the way in which we are building a decent work movement in the nonprofit sector. Women workers are not a separate group of people from the rest of the nonprofit labour force. Rather, in making up 80% of the workforce, women are part of it, and one could even argue at the centre of it. So how could we possibly build a decent work movement in the nonprofit sector without a gender based intersectional (GBA+) lens?

This thinking allows us to bring to the forefront diverse women’s perspectives, experiences, and voices to further inform our overall decent work movement-building. In this way, we haven’t put the onus on just our women workers to improve their working conditions, but rather are making it the work of everybody in the sector.

We at ONN value learning. Although we have been working on sector-wide labour force issues and subsequently building a decent work movement for a number of years, only recently have we begun applying a GBA+ lens to our work and are learning new and critical things. We’ve been documenting these learnings in our literature review on broader labour market patterns in Ontario and in our Women’s Voices report on barriers women face in the nonprofit sector. Below are some examples of what engendering the seven pillars of decent work have revealed thus far:

  • Fair wages means ensuring the gender wage gap does not persist
  • The disproportionate impact of stable employment on women workers is considered
  • Health and retirement benefits include maternity top-ups
  • Safe reporting mechanisms for discrimination and harassment are instituted for equality and rights at work
  • Opportunities for professional development and advancement eradicate glass ceilings
  • The leadership of the sector reflects gender parity and other forms of diversity while organizational cultures don’t reproduce gendered roles
  • The impact of a feminized sector on the labour force is recognized as a factor in employment opportunities

We’re not assuming that the same solutions will work for everyone. But rather, we hope to amplify the message that considering diverse women’s experiences ultimately benefits the entire labour force. By championing decent work practices, nonprofits will be better able to meet their missions and contribute to thriving communities

Decent work is happening

While we are disappointed with the passing of Bill 47, which undoes most of the employment standards improvements contained in last year’s Bill 148, and the postponing of implementing the pay transparency act, we must continue to champion and support decent work practices across Ontario. We know that decent work is more than a single piece of legislation and also consists of both monetary and non-monetary aspects.

In this vein, we reviewed the decent work charter and checklist to add in tangible decent work components that impact women. For example, under the ‘fair wages’ aspect we included a section on eliminating gender bias and under the ‘opportunities for advancement’ aspect we included indicators for ensuring management, senior leadership, and board positions are gender-balanced and reflect the diversity of the community. We will be building on this work as it progresses and we have more learnings.

Join in!

We’re not in this alone. We need you! There are many ways you can champion and implement decent work:

December 2, 2018 at 7:36 pm
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