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Accredited Certification Supporting Gender Equality in Italy

Emanuele Riva
Chair, IAF
Vice General Manager and Director of the Department of Certification and Inspection, Accredia

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, no country in the world has bridged the gender gap, and Italy ranks 63rd in the global ranking. In Italy women are more educated than men (56% of the total number of university graduates), however they work less (employment rate of 49.5% in comparison to 67.6% of men), they earn less (the average differential is estimated at 16%) and occupy far fewer managerial positions than men (27% in comparison to 73%). Gender equality is indicated as a priority objective at the international level (UN Agenda 2030, Gender equality, PNRR Mission 5C1).

Based on these premises, UNI, the Italian standardization body, has published the publicly available specification PdR 125, entitled “Guidelines on the management system for gender equality which provides the adoption of specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) relating to gender equality policies in organizations “.

This certifiable standard, developed together with Accredia and the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and other interested parties, aims to initiate a systemic process of cultural change in organizations in order to increase gender equality, overcoming the stereotypical vision of roles and drawing on the skills of women to stimulate the economic and social growth of the country.

This is an instrument that aims to encourage companies to adopt policies to reduce the gender gap. It consists of certifying the policies and concrete measures adopted to reduce this gap in relation to growth opportunities in the company, equal pay for equal jobs, policies for managing gender differences and the protection of motherhood and parenthood.

The certification is linked to incentive and reward mechanisms (ministerial decree of 29 April 2022, published on 1 July 2022), which also provides for the coverage of certification costs with public funding (5.5 million euros to cover the certification costs of companies – maximum of 12,500 euros per company – and 2,500 for consulting services).

The standard, based on ISO/IEC 17021-1 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems — Part 1: Requirements also includes KPIs through which to measure the degree of maturity of an organization in terms of gender equality, grouped into six macro-areas.

There are 33 evaluated parameters, distributed in six areas of indicators divided as follows: seven indicators on culture and strategy, five on governance, six on processes related to human resources, seven on the growth and inclusion of women, three indicators on remunerative equity and five on the protection of parenthood.

A score is associated with each KPI. The KPIs are qualitative (presence or absence of services, policies and interventions aimed at gender rebalancing) and quantitative (positive deviation percentages – and in any case growing compared to the average values ​​of the sector as regards salaries, careers, number of female staff in senior positions). To achieve the certification, the overall minimum score of 60 percent must be achieved. But that’s not enough. The company that aspires to certification must have a global gender equality policy and related management system. In practice, it is a question of having a formal document, to be published on its website, in which the organization defines the general framework within which its strategies and objectives regarding gender equality must be identified. Adequate resources and budgets must be allocated to achieve the objectives and a high-profile steering committee (including the managing director or a delegate of the property and the personnel manager or equivalent figure) must be appointed, which must first draw up a strategy in line with the global policy of “simple, measurable, achievable, realistic objectives, planned over time and assigned as implementation responsibilities”. The whole system must also be subject to periodic review.

The list of certified companies will be available on the Accredia website, and on IAF CertSearch. In addition, the Ministry for Equal Opportunities will soon develop a database in which it will be possible to analyze, also for the purpose of future inclusion strategies, the aggregate data of all certified companies, analyzing performance with respect to the 33 indicators, divided by micro, small, medium and large companies.

Accredia has published a technical circular N ° 11/2022 to describe the accreditation process. In order to be accredited, even the same certification bodies, within one year, must have implemented the Gender Equality Management System internally.

UNI/PdR 125: 2022 can be downloaded in English or Italian free of charge from the UNI catalog: https://store.uni.com/en/uni-pdr-125-2022

FAQs on the application of the certification scheme will then be published on the UNI and Accredia websites.

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