Meeting the mandatory GEP-requirements: The four building blocks

Under Horizon Europe, having a gender Equality Plan (GEP) will be an eligibility criterion for higher education establishments from EU Member States and Associates Countries, such as Norway.

A GEP is a set of actions that aim to promote gender equality through institutional and cultural change in research and innovation organisations. The European Commission has identified a set of essential elements – or building blocks – for effective GEP´s. These are related to the 1) publication of a formal document (diversity/equality plan) on the institution´s website, 2) to have dedicated resources on equality within the organization, 3) to collect and monitor sex and gender disaggregated data, and 4) to have an internal capacity building program on equality and diversity. 

You can read how OsloMet meet these mandatory requirements below.

The Norwegian context

Publication

Public undertakings, regardless of size, and private undertakings that ordinarily employ more than 50 persons shall issue a statement on equality measures, implemented or planned, to promote the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act’s purpose of equality irrespective of ethnicity, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The statement needs to include the actual status of gender equality at the institution, the work they have done meeting the requirements of the activity duty and every other year the institutions are required to issue a statement on the gender pay gap, involuntary part-time and gender distribution at different position levels.

Dedicated resources

There is no budget dedicated to fulfill the law at institutional level. However, there are national support structures available with The Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research, (KIF), the KIF-secretariat with two gender experts and the Equality and Antidiscrimination Ombud. The Research Council of Norway (RCN) has a task force with two dedicated gender experts.

Data collection and monitoring

The Norwegian Equality and Anti-discrimination Act includes the obligation to annually report GEPs for any employer with over 50 employees (including HEIs).The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud has in its duty to monitor and evaluate GEPs. The Committee for gender balance and diversity in reserach (KIF) undertakes an annual check on which HEIs have a GEP. All GEPs that are in place are posted on KIFs website (kifinfo.no)  Data on the status of gender equality and diversity in research is included in annual and biannual statistics reports such as The Report on Science and Technology indicators for Norway (annual) and Status report on higher education (biannual). A collection of all data on gender and diversity in research in Norway can be found at KIFs website.

Training

The Committee for gender balance and diversity in reserach (KIF), the BALANSE-program (RCN) and Kilden genderresearch.no hold regular trainings on different topics regarding gender equality and diversity in research.

How OsloMet meets the mandatory requirements

Publication

In Norway, all public sector enterprises – including OsloMet – have a statutory obligation to promote equality and diversity in their capacity as employers and exercisers of authority. The university has a diversity action plan (PDF document in norwegian at ansatt.oslomet.no) in force at all times that is adopted by the Board as an important governing document, and every year, OsloMet reports on its efforts as an employer to promote equality and diversity through the annual reporting (link to the archive for annual reports). 

The action plan is always aligned with the organisation before it is considered by the Board. It is considered by the senior management team, the formalised cooperation between the social partners, the Working Environment Committee and the diversity committee. The plan is openly available on OsloMet’s diversity page.

Dedicated resources 

The university has a dedicated position responsible for OsloMet’s diversity work. Programme Director – Culture and Diversity, Vibeke Horn, is a certified diversity manager (in norwgian, norsksertifisering.no) and chair of OsloMet’s diversity committee. 

OsloMet’s diversity committee has an interdisciplinary composition, and has the following remit: 

OsloMet has a dedicated culture and diversity budget.

Data collection and monitoring

In OsloMet’s Diversity Action Plan and the annual report, data relating to gender are generated and monitored. Some important variables here include gender balance in different position categories and the student body, as well as gender and pay.

It is a goal for OsloMet to have a good gender balance both in teaching and research (TR) positions and in technical and administrative (TA) positions, as well as in the student body. OsloMet has a very good gender balance in top academic positions (professor/dosent professor and senior researcher), with 52% women and 48% men. When compared to other universities in Norway, OsloMet has the most even gender balance in this position category, and the university is 14 percentage points ahead of the university in second place with regard to the percentage of women in top academic positions. 

Women account for 66.3% of total full-time equivalents, while 68.2% of OsloMet’s students are female. All figures are from 2019 and are obtained from the Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH). 

Male and female staff at the university must receive equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. The pay statistics show that there are no major systematic differences in the average pay between men and women at OsloMet. The ratio of women's pay to men's is around 96.2%. Wage developments broken down by gender are monitored through local pay negotiations, and in 2016, the Board made a decision to specify in the Rector’s negotiation authorisation that particular attention will be given to any differences in pay that may be explained by gender. 

Training

Through the OsloMet Academy, in particular the programme for diversity management, managers, employee representatives, safety delegates, HR personnel and others have received training in topics that provide generic diversity expertise:

Intoduction

Basic diversity expertise

Diversity expertise as value creation

The programme for diversity management is evolving in step with changes in both national and European requirements and expectations, including Horizon Europe’s requirement that applicants must have a Gender Equality Plan to be eligible for research funding. As an associated EU member, this requirement also applies to Norway. 

Recommended focus areas

In addition to the mandatory requirements, the EU Commission also recommends including more focus areas in the planning work. National legislation and frameworks adequately address many of these focus areas, and OsloMet has several measures at the local level that support and develop the following two recommended areas in particular: 

Organisational culture and work-life balance

Norway has one of the most gender equal parental leave schemes in the world. In addition to complying with the requirements of the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act, the university makes active and systematic endeavours to create and develop a culture among staff and students characterised by equality and diversity.

The university’s core value ‘diversity’ establishes diversity as a resource at OsloMet. Core values make up the cornerstones of an organisational culture and at OsloMet, a conscious connection has been made between culture and diversity efforts. The university’s culture committee works systematically to integrate diversity into cultural events and provisions for students and staff, for instance at literature events, film events, theatre productions and concerts. Our cultural scene is open to the people of Oslo and is an open academic arena for diversity. The university addresses different key societal development trends in the area of diversity, such as #metoo and #blacklivesmatter. The global coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and 2021 has also given rise to new problems: At the overriding level, diversity and equality work is given lower priority in times of crisis, and we need to ask which blind zones deserve attention. 

Annual ‘rituals’ related to diversity include International Women’s Day, the Sámi National Day, the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities and Oslo Pride. Together, they contribute to making diversity a common cultural identity marker for students and staff. 

Action against harassment, including sexual harassment

The more stringent activity and reporting duties under the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act, the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges and the Ministry of Education and Research’s letter of allocation require OsloMet to make systematic efforts to combat harassment.

The #metoo campaign has also brought the extent of sexual harassment in academia to the forefront. In 2018, OsloMet chose to incorporate questions about sexual harassment in its employee survey, and thereby became the first institution in the sector in Norway to do so. The purpose was to obtain data on the scope and types of harassment and to gain an overview of the number of harassment reports. The overall response rate was 82% and 2% of the respondents stated that they had been victims of sexual harassment in the past year. 

In 2019, OsloMet took part in a nationwide survey of bullying and harassment in the higher education sector. With a response rate of 48% (5% above the national average), it emerged that 11% of staff at OsloMet stated that they had been victims of bullying and harassment in the past year. The national average is 13%. Of OsloMet’s staff, 1.2% stated that they had been victims of sexual harassment, while the national average is 1.6%. 

In the students’ health and well-being survey (SHOT) the same year, 23% of OsloMet’s students stated that they had been victims of sexual harassment (response rate 35.6%). The national average was 24%.
 
Overall, the data show that the sector and OsloMet have challenges to overcome in relation to harassment. To address them, the university has therefore devised different measures, the most important being: