Equality is Qualityawards recognise good practice

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In January 2002, the winners of Portugal's annual 'Equality is Quality' prize, awarded by the tripartite Commission for Equality in Work and Employment, were announced. The prize is designed to reward good practices by employers in promoting equality of opportunity for women and men. In 2002, the winners were Opel Portugal and the Loures Town Hall Municipal Water and Sanitation Services. The employment of women in traditionally male-dominated professions, particularly in management positions, was a key criterion in awarding the prize.

The Commission for Equality in Work and Employment (Comissão para a Igualdade no Trabalho e no Emprego, CITE) is a public body made up of representatives of the government and the social partners. Its main aim is to combat discrimination and promote equality of opportunity between men and women in the workplace, in the labour market and in relation to vocational training, in both the public and private sectors (PT0004190F). Every year, CITE awards the 'Equality is Quality' ('Igualdade é Qualidade') prize to employers that are adjudged to have adopted innovative measures designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace, and good human resources practices which promote equality of opportunity for men and women (PT0107158F).

In 2001, the winners were Opel Portugal,Comércio e Indústria SA and the Loures Town Hall Municipal Water and Sanitation Services (Serviços Municipalizados de Água e Saneamento da Câmara Municipal de Loures). Honourable mentions went to the Agricultural Cooperative of Reguengos de Monsaraz (Cooperativa Agrícola de Reguengos de Monsaraz), Lisbon Historical District Infrastructures (Equipamentos Bairros Históricos de Lisboa, EBAHL), Farmácia Barreiros, Grafe-Publicidade and RES Prestação de Serviços Comerciais, SA

The human resource policies adopted by the winning organisations were found to be based on good practice. They encourage women to perform tasks that have been traditionally carried out by men, particularly in management positions.

Opel Portugal, Comércio e Indústria, SA

According to Opel, part of the US-based General Motors motor manufacturing group, it has developed various practical initiatives that underpin a philosophy of extending employment opportunities to qualified candidates and employees, based on non-discrimination in terms of age, race, colour, sex, religion, nationality, disability or sexual orientation.

Recently, the company signed an agreement under the scope of the 'NOW Luna' project - a transnational project with the EU's New Opportunities for Women (NOW) initiative (PT0004190F). This marked its continued collaboration with all relevant parties, in an attempt to implement positive schemes related to equality of opportunity. In the traditionally male-dominated automobile industry, Opel has appointed women to various positions that have previously been held mainly by men, particularly in paint-shop operations. In addition to such 'hands-on' positions on the production line, Opel Portugal has recruited women in a number of key senior positions, including the management of its engineering central office, which is responsible for industrial engineering, projects, the environment and maintenance. Opel Portugal took another pioneering step by appointing a woman as director of its welding division. Women also occupy key posts in the areas of finance and environmental systems, among others.

Loures Town Hall Municipal Water and Sanitation Services

Loures Town Hall Municipal Water and Sanitation Services has adopted a policy that seeks to guarantee equality of opportunity during recruitment. It also seeks to ensure: equal access to promotion, career development and vocational training for both men and women; a balance between the private and working lives of both male and female employees; an improvement in the standard of working conditions; and an increased awareness of equality of opportunity. The organisation was honoured by CITE principally due to the percentage of women occupying positions in management and the higher technical staff echelons. The prize also highlights the option open to women to pursue traditionally male-dominated careers in this organisation.

Commentary

Initiatives like the 'Equality is Quality' award, along with equal pay, proper recognition of women's skills and abilities and policies that enable employees to combine work and family life, help to draw more women into the labour market and improve their position once in employment. (Ana Almeida and Maria Luisa Cristovam, UAL)

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