The Gendered Account Of The Personnel As A Tool For Mainstreaming Equality In Finnish Ministries

Link to article: How to mainstream Gender Equality –Experiences from the Finnish Context (Horelli, L. 2001)

Liisa Horelli, PhD, Academy Research Fellow. Helsinki University of Technology, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies. P.B. 9300, 02015 TKK, Finland

The relationship between equality and competitiveness or organizational productivity is indirect but significant. The mission of businesses and organizations in general is determined by the client, who most often consists of both women and men. Therefore, the potential for learning and competence within the organizations is dependent on the tacit knowledge of the needs and aspirations of the female and male client groups in question. Different types of knowledges are the basis of innovation which again is the basis of competence leading to productivity. Besides the innovation and competence factors, the constant lack of skilled human resources makes another argument for the necessity to enhance equality and diversity in organizations. Recognition of both female and male clients requires systematic development of equality with carefully chosen objectives. One of the tools for promoting equality is the mainstreaming of the account of the personnel.

The aim of this article is to present the steps of mainstreaming the annual account of the personnel and the construction of the gender balance as it has taken place in the Finnish Ministry of Labour (c.f. Creation of Mainstreaming Methodology) . The results will also be discussed and some conclusions will be drawn for future development.

Drafting of the gender balance

Mainstreaming the annual account of the personnel

According to the Council of Europe “Gender mainstreaming is the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies, at all levels and at all stages, by actors normally involved in policy-making.” In practice, the aim of this Finnish project cluster was to create a political and administrative culture, where equality principles would be put into practice in normal working life.

Gender mainstreaming is a transformative strategy, which cannot be applied from scratch. Successful mainstreaming requires, besides political and administrative will, certain supportive structures such as an equality network or organisation with responsible persons with some resources. The latter can assist in the interventions aimed at changing the practices of the institution. The Ministry of Labour has had a long tradition of equality work. As it participated in the Mainstreaming project-cluster with the “Reorganisation of the Ministry”, it put up a new equality group with some resources. This group started to analyse the Department´s historical and current context by conducting a “gender archaeology”. It found out that the annual accounting of human resources did not contain gender disaggregated statistics. This gave impetus to start transforming the account of the personnel into a monitoring and evaluation system for displaying the status of equality.

The steps of mainstreaming or engendering the annual account of human resources were the following:

Gathering of necessary statistics and documents

The Finnish Ministry of Finances is responsible for producing guidelines on the structure of the account of human resources (see Appendix 1). Thus the guidelines indicate what statistics should be gathered, but they do not stress the importance of disaggregating of the figures in terms of gender. Risto Erjanko, a statistician at the Minister of Labour, had however, monitored for several years the development of the wages of women and men, the degree of education of the personnel in terms of sexes, etc. Consequently he managed to engender the structure of the personnel in terms of the amount, age, education, and by changes in the tasks and wages of women and men. He even counted the yearly cost of work for women and men in different task groups.

The “normal” accounting does not require the analysis of management documents, but the gender balance should include some observations about the visibility of gender in the objectives and strategies of the organisation. Therefore, one person was in charge of gender proofing the main management documents.

Interpretation and assessment of the data with a set of assessment sheets
Statistics cannot by themselves reveal the gender imbalances. Figures need to be interpreted by relevant groups. Ideally, the interpretation should take place by all stakeholders, but at least by the representatives of the various units in the organisation, the management included. The equality group of the Ministry of Labour was the change agent, which co-ordinated the assessment process.

A set of evaluation sheets were collectively prepared, which assisted in assessing the gender status along six dimensions: equality in management, promotion of equality within the organisation, the amount of women and men involved in different work tasks and in decision making, the structure of wages, participation in training, and experience of equality. Each of these dimensions were assessed by a specific sheet which displayed the results on a scale from 1-5 as well as the areas for improvement and recommendations. All the data was finally gathered into a Summary sheet for the gender balance (Table 1).

Table 1. Summary sheet for the gender balance

Drafting of the gender balance

The equality group collected the assessments and made a synthesis of the results. The latter was written down as a one page draft of the Gender balance. It began with the general rating of the organisation, followed by the areas for improvement and recommendations in each of the dimensions described above. For instance, in 1988, the area for improvement in “the equality in management” was the lack of engagement of the management in equality objectives. The recommendation was to put up a new organisation of equality with resources.

Presentation of the gender balance to the leaders and the management group

The draft of the gender balance was taken in the Ministry of Labour to the Secretary general. It was discussed with the management group, some changes were made and then it was accepted. Those recommendations, which were agreed upon, became the gender objectives for the next year.

Integration of the approved gender balance objectives into the account of the personnel

The interpretation of the most significant statistics, the areas of improvement and the recommendations were then written down as a condensed gender balance – a small summarising chapter in the account of the personnel. The account and the gender balance was then diffused as a paper version and also digitally in the intranet of the Ministry.

Conclusions and discussion

There are of course many ways of creating monitoring and evaluation systems of equality and this Finnish example is just one of them, which is, however, being followed by the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Environment and Social Affairs. It is difficult to say at this stage, what the impact of a gendered account of the personnel is on the mainstreaming of the Ministry and its policies. Nevertheless, the positive effect of this assessment tool is that its gender disaggregated statistics concretely display the differences between women and men in certain important factors, such as the vertical and horizontal segregation of work tasks and corresponding imbalance of male and female wages. In addition, the application of the annual account of the personnel brings forth gendered routines in the organisation.

The current way of accounting human resources has not yet, however, been utilised in its full potential. It has so far been applied as an alarm clock, not as a development tool which is closely connected to the strategic management of the organisation. If this would be the case, the tool could be developed into one which could assist in tapping the core competences necessary for the competitiveness and capacity building of a dynamic learning organisation. Equality would then be part of the management of diversity, which would be systematically monitored and assessed.


Erjanko, Risto (2000) Statistics of the Account of the Personnel of the Ministry of Labour in Finland. Unpublished manuscript in Finnish. Helsinki. Ministry of Labour.
Group of Specialist on Mainstreaming (1998) Gender Mainstreaming. Conceptual framework, methodology and presentation of good practices. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
Horelli, Liisa (1997) Engendering Evaluation of European Regional Development. Shifting from a Minuet to Progressive Dance!. Evaluation, Vol.3(4):435-450.
Valtiovarainministeriö (1996) Henkilöstövoimavarojen hallintajärjestelmä, Henkilöstötilinpäätös (Account of the personnel). Helsinki: Edita

Appendix 1.


0. Introduction

1. Current input of the personnel

1.1 Amount and structure

1.1.1 Structure of the personnel
Task groups
Wage structure

1.1.2 Person-years of work

1.2 Use of working time
1.3 Cost of labour

2. Need of personnel

2.1 Supply and demand (of women and men)

3. Development of human resources

3.1 Motivation and condition of the personnel

3.1.1 Satisfaction with work
3.1.2 Absence from work (1-3 day leaves, sick leaves)
3.1.3 Mobility of the personnel

3.2 Investment to the personnel

3.2.1 Training and development
3.2.2. Enhancement of satisfaction with work and condition

4. Output and results of the personnel

4.1 Cost of the person-year of work (for women and men)

5. Gender balance