The purpose of our survey was to study whether we could identify any common skills among this population that can help us understand and identify enablers for future success. We could find several enablers and in this article we will start to present some of the findings we made.
In our study, we identified three experiences that with statistical significance increases the retention of women:
Women who had experience before taking on the first UN staff position tends to retain longer in the UN (83% were retained compared to 52% for non-UNV);
Women who had hardship experience before taking on the first UN staff position tends to retain longer in the UN; (80% were retained compared to 50% for talents with no hardship experience)
Women who had someone to ask about the job to better understand its content before submitting the application tends to retain longer in the UN. (80% were retained compared to 51% for talents not having the possibility to ask)
UNV is the key to reaching gender parity at the UN. UNV not only administer the UN Volunteer Programme, most of the UN Volunteers serve in hardship duty stations. Also UNV are serious about responding to their candidates questions and is one of the few organizations that invites candidate to ask questions by providing a contact email easily accessible under the FAQ section. The importance of responding to questions from potential female applicants is also confirmed in a recently published report based on a survey of 203’000 individuals conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). An article published by the Society for Human Resources Management based on the survey results conclude:
Women typically want details about what the international assignment will entail, according to Katie Abouzahr, lead researcher for the May 3 BCG survey report, who noted that "women are less willing to 'wing it.' They want to understand what the assignment looks like before they apply."
How to reach gender parity?
In one of our recent published articles we provide a list of tangible actions to move the gender parity agenda from words in a Strategic Plan to actions in the real word. One interesting section in this article relates to how UN organizations report their gender diversity to member states.
The most common, and hence most important categories of personnel (contingent workers) are left out of the reporting and the reporting is only reflecting staff positions. With this fresh in mind it was encouraging to see the UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator Toily Kurbanov sharing the map covering this article. The map shows in a transparent way the gender parity among volunteers (one important group of contingent workers of the UN).
Given the high retention among women who served as UNV, when UNV succeed in achieving gender parity, the whole UN system will benefit.