The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at Fulbright University Vietnam in collaboration with USAID and Tetra Tech is hosting a Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program designed and moderated specifically for Vietnam Electricity (EVN). The program consists of organizational and personal assessments, a 6-day virtual training, and four months of coaching to prepare EVN’s management participants to become agents of change and develop other skills.
On three consecutive weekends from December 4 to 19, 2021 followed up by four-month coaching process, the program is facilitated by an international team of Engendering Utilities change-management and gender equality experts whose backgrounds vary greatly in Human Resources across multiple industries from electrical to consumer and non-profit to private sectors.
The program curriculum draws from USAID’s toolkit, Delivering Gender Equality: A Best Practices Framework for Male-Dominated Industries, which demonstrates methods for introducing gender equality initiatives at each phase of the employee lifecycle. Intended to be a catalyst for change, the program provides a holistic practical learning environment that ensures success for EVN’s participating employees and the group itself. Throughout the learning courses, participants are prepared to become agents of change within their organizations by developing the skills needed to:
- Identify gender equality gaps within their organization
- Develop a business case that demonstrates how gender equality will benefit the organization’s bottom-line
- Take targeted, tangible, and strategic action, grounded in assessment, to increase gender equality in their organization
- Strengthen leadership and change management skills to exercise more influence, thus, create an equitable and diverse workplace
- Effectively engage other male and female leaders within their organization in support of desired changes.
Following the training, participants are taking part in a virtual coaching process spread over four months to help them successfully drive change, improve gender equality, and build resilience in their organization. Before and after each participant joins the course, they must complete Participant Self-Assessment, whose aim is to record their knowledge, attitudes, and current practices related to promoting gender equality in the workplace. Hence, EVN will be evaluated on how the group, as a whole, implements the Gender Action Plan, which has been built during the course, for their subsidiaries.
Gender equality and women entrepreneurship in Vietnam workforce
In Vietnam, there is a common notion of women being secondary earners while men being breadwinners, recorded in both rural and urban settings. This is known as a ‘gendered structure’ economy. This involves the perception that women’s natural competency is mainly limited to housework and not in management and business. Vietnamese women tend to face greater vulnerability and disadvantages due to low levels of financial and digital literacy, lack of opportunities for capacity development, and discriminatory sociocultural norms.
According to research, the gender earnings gap in Vietnam is estimated to be 29.5 percent, with 21.5 percent in urban areas and 35.2 percent in rural areas. COVID-19 has also contributed to a reduction in working hours for women and the loss of jobs. Between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2020, Vietnam’s women labor force participation rate fell from 76 percent to 73.8 percent.
The participation gap between the two genders is even more immense when it comes to male-dominant industries, specifically the energy sector. Based on a report by Vietnam Electric Trade Union, as of December 31, 2020, the total number of female employees in the EVN group is around 19,997 – accounting for only 20.6% of the total group population.
Moving forward Vietnam’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN, Resolution No. 28/NQ-CP has been approved in March 2021, which embarked the National Strategy on Gender Equality in 2021 – 2030. Specifically, by 2025, 60% and by 2030, over 75% of state management agencies and local administration at all levels shall have female leaders. The resolution is also aimed to increase the rate of female employees engaged in paid work to 50% by 2025 and to approximately 60% by 2030. As UN Women praised Vietnam’s commitments to increase female representation in the workforce and politics particularly at local and provincial government levels, the strategy is expected to help Vietnam better achieve its national targets for women’s entrepreneurship, shaping a more sustainable and inclusive economy and society.
In male-dominated sectors, expanding women’s participation leads to tangible economic empowerment outcomes for women, such as formal employment opportunities and higher income. Increased gender equality also improves organizations’ business performance, encourages companies to meet their bottom-line by enhancing employee satisfaction, reducing turnover, and driving productivity. In time, well-functioning organizations will be the unassailable bedrock that shall support a stronger and more resilient Vietnamese economy.
The CEI’s commitment to driving entrepreneurship and innovation across Vietnamese society
“So far, the training has brought us all, participants and facilitators, together and created a premise towards building and implementing the Gender Action Plan at EVN,” says a participant about the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program’s virtual training sessions. “I have learned so much from other participants and their organization. The courses are well-developed and purposeful, which has inspired me – a woman, to change my own perspectives and behaviors. I wish that each of us will become an ambassador of Gender Equality.”
The participants at EVN gave the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program an NPS of 4.6, with a 4.8 out of 5 going to the smooth communication between facilitators and learners throughout the virtual courses. Among all of the learning contents, Empowering, Self-motivation & Leading Change and Gender Strategy & Change Management are the two most worthwhile modules chosen by respondents. Coaching sessions with high-profile experts are also expected to be one factor accounting for the success of the program.
Launching the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program has been one of CEI’s efforts in developing and improving company culture, policies, and practices that advance gender equality, and is most applicable to companies that have (or are in the process of developing) standard human resource practices. The program further proves the CEI’s commitment to incubating and accelerating ventures going after Vietnam’s toughest challenges. With great hope, the CEI aims to cultivate the next generation of ethical leaders and changemakers of Vietnam and the region.
“Even though it is the first-time launch in Vietnam, the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program for EVN has opened doors for a start of new initiatives and more insightful perspectives on this sector. Our facilitators who lead the training content adjustments are looking forward to tailoring more Vietnamese context and data on gender equality for Vietnamese corporations,” shared Spencer Ton, CEI’s Director.
Since its launch in 2019, the CEI as Fulbright University Vietnam’s first University Center, has initiated various innovative programs to embed entrepreneurship and innovation into the core of Fulbright’s culture and academic program. Furthermore, the CEI has also offered impactful learning opportunities on entrepreneurship and innovation for stakeholders across Vietnamese society and the region, including non-Fulbright students, professionals, startups, companies, and members of the general public.
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