Enabling Environment Week by Vienna-based UN Organizations and the International Gender Champions Network

From the 19th to the 23rd of October 2020, Vienna-based UN Organizations together with the International Gender Champions Network organised the first Enabling Environment Week. This joint effort aimed to raise awareness on the key thematic topics covered in the Enabling Environment Guidelines, supporting an inclusive working culture at the Vienna-based Organizations, and reinforcing momentum towards reaching gender parity.

The week of webinars covered each of the five Enabling Environment Guideline topics:

  • Recruitment

  • Workplace Flexibility

  • Talent Management

  • Standards of Conduct

  • Family-Friendly Policies

There was also a session on creating enabling environments in the UN’s field offices and operations.

The International Gender Champions Network led a discussion on family-friendly policies that support diversity and contribute to creating an enabling environment. Panellists recognised the necessity of changing mindsets both at the top of organisations and amongst staff. Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and International Gender Champion, noted that when it comes to creating an enabling environment, “we are all in the same boat - all working for the same goals - and we need strong role models to achieve them.” Professor Yasin Rofcanin from the University of Bath supplemented this by arguing that managers, in particular, need to demonstrate family-supportive supervision and that organizations should encourage and monitor this through training and performance management mechanisms. 

In the end, H.E. Leigh Turner, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in Vienna and another International Gender Champion, concluded that to change social norms and provide staff with the opportunity to fully engage with their families we need to be prepared to challenge not only others but also ourselves. The moderator of the session and Head of International Gender Champions Secretariat Fleur Heyworth aligned herself with the Ambassador, adding that “challenging yourself is the very beginning of that journey.”