Benchmarking is a method of quality improvement through systematic comparisons and mutual learning. This model of benchmarking is used to improve gender equality efforts in municipalities.
Gender mainstreaming means the inclusion of a gender equality perspective in the planning, decisions, implementation and follow-up of an activity.
Working with gender mainstreaming is working with quality improvement. Succeeding with sustainable quality improvement requires both persistence and an orderly way of working.
Benchmarking is based on the idea of carefully comparing one’s own working methods and processes with those of a different organization in an effort to find potential improvements. The lessons learned are used in each of the organizations by implementing, disseminating and following up on the quality improvements at home.
The Modellkommuner (model municipalities) project applies this method to develop and improve gender equality efforts in municipalities and regions. There are two roles involved here, that of the mentor, and that of the benchmarking organization.
The mentors have broad-based experience of gender mainstreaming and can explain examples and best practices that other organizations can learn from. The mentors also learn more through sharing their knowledge.
Benchmarking organizations may have experience of gender mainstreaming, but may need more knowledge and a more systematic way of working in order to mainstream gender equality in their regular management systems.
Benchmarking is implemented in clusters, with a mentor and two benchmarking organizations that meet several times over the course of one year. Between meetings, they conduct their own quality improvement programmes at home. The process is commenced and concluded by joint meetings of several clusters of mentors and benchmarking organizations.
This model consists of eight steps that describe the planning and implementation of five meetings, as well as work at home between those meetings. The Swedish version also contains checklists, templates and other material as support for these efforts. The model that will be presented here is meant solely to give you an overview of the process.
The starting point for these efforts is the checklist for gender mainstreaming that SALAR has produced.
Meeting in clusters of the organizations that will be cooperating:
The key person in the mentor organization is responsible for organizing the meetings in consultation with the other key persons. A good idea is for each organization to host one meeting and to pay for the cost of that meeting. The participants themselves should pay for travel and related expenses.
Based on the results of the self-assessment, and the lessons learned from Benchmarking Meeting No. 1, quality improvement should be done at home. The following is a description of different steps for systematically working with improvements. Go as far as you can before the next benchmarking meeting.
This programme is based on the PDSA model, which is also known as the quality cycle. Use the model and material that your organization usually uses for the systematic planning, implementation and follow-up of quality improvement efforts.
Remember to choose a well-defined area for improvement that is realistic to implement during the course of the project.
The second benchmarking meeting is about following up on the quality improvement that was implemented since the last meeting, benchmark the quality improvement in a specific area and begin the work of ensuring that the chain of command works from beginning to end.
After the meeting, the participants should have:
Continue the quality improvement you began, using the various steps described in Step 3 (Quality improvement at home). Apply what you have learned from the benchmarking session to your quality improvement. Use the supporting material as required.
The third meeting focuses on the monitoring and follow-up systems and continued efforts
Continue your quality improvement based on the various steps described under Step 3. (Quality improvement at home). Take what you have learned from the benchmarking meeting and apply it to your quality improvement. Use the supporting material as required.
What can be achieved also depends on the purpose and the target group of the conference. The target group can be other activities in your own organization, or in other organizations on the regional or national level, and the purpose may be dissemination and information or the start-up of new benchmarking.
There is no certification or external testing required to become a model municipality. On the contrary, the assessment is based on your own self-assessment. When you realize that you no longer have any scores of 1, and you give yourself a 3 on more than half of the points on the checklist, you may well be ready to be a model organization.
Your organization can also be a ”mentor” in a new benchmarking round even when you have a ways to go before you are a gender-mainstreamed organization. You can also use this model to gender mainstream your organization’s own divisions and administrations.
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