Equal opportunities policy from a gender perspective in Lithuanian enterprises
In 2009, at the request of the United Nations Development Programme in Lithuania, market research company RAIT Ltd conducted a survey analysing the equal opportunities situation in Lithuanian enterprises. The survey showed that women were exposed to the risk of discrimination with regard to different aspects of employment more often than men. It also found that the surveyed enterprises did not have a robust system to ensure equal opportunities for men and women at work.
Survey objectives and methodology
A survey carried out by the market research company RAIT Ltd in May 2009 sought to assess equal opportunities policy from a gender perspective in Lithuanian enterprises. The survey was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme in Lithuania (UNDP Lithuania).
Gender equality in the private sector was analysed using a gender equality index specifically designed for Lithuania on the basis of best practice in this area from abroad. The analysis covered aspects such as recruitment, career advancement and opportunities to improve qualifications, work-life balance and other issues relevant to gender equality in business. Unfortunately, because of the sensitivity of the topic, only generalised results of the research are available.
The main research method used by the survey was face-to-face interviewing. A total of 26 company managers, 16 human resource specialists and 595 employees working in 16 Lithuanian companies participated in the survey.
Equal opportunities in recruitment process
The survey revealed that women were at a higher risk than men of discrimination in the recruitment process. Women were more frequently asked questions during job interviews about their family status than men (63.7% and 60.3%, respectively) and the number of children in their family (49.3% compared to 38.3% of men) (Figure 1).
According to the survey, a quarter of the women were asked about their plans to have children in the near future compared to only 6.1% of the men surveyed. A larger proportion of women also reported that they were asked who was going to take care of the children and/or other dependent family members in their family (14.3% in comparison to 3.4%).
Figure 1: Questions asked during job interviews, by gender (%)
Source: RAIT Ltd
Equal career and pay opportunities
The survey findings indicate that a slightly larger proportion of the men surveyed held higher occupational positions than the women surveyed; 13% of the men and 9% of the women held managerial positions.
The majority of respondents indicated that they did not experience any kind of discrimination with regard to their promotion opportunities. This opinion was expressed by 99.7% of the men and 94.7% of the women surveyed. However, 5.3% of the women respondents stated that they had not been promoted to a higher position because of their gender.
The findings of the survey revealed that female workers were more frequently discriminated against than male workers with regard to salary. About 16.7% of the women, in contrast to 5.4% of the men, reported that gender was one of the factors determining the level of pay in their job (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Proportion of men and women who believe that gender is a factor determining the level of pay in their job (%)
Source: RAIT Ltd
The survey’s findings suggest that, in general, the incidence of unreasonable gender-based treatment in the enterprises surveyed was quite low However, women slightly more often than men reported having been exposed to unreasonable treatment at work based on gender (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Respondents experiencing unreasonable gender-based treatment in their workplace (%)
Source: RAIT Ltd
Opportunities for improving qualifications
The survey found that, in most of the enterprises surveyed, women and men were provided with equal opportunities to improve their qualifications; 88.4% of the women and 85.7% of the men participated in training fully or partly paid for by the employer.
Policies to ensure equal opportunities in enterprises
The survey revealed that most enterprises have no systematic policy measures aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for men and women at work. The findings show that in most of the enterprises surveyed:
- pay differences between women and men are not being recorded;
- there are no formal procedures for employees to follow in the case of sexual harassment at work;
- there is no person or unit assigned to accept complaints about sexual harassment or other issues relating to gender equality;
- employees do not attend any courses on sexual assault, harassment at work and alienation of work results.
Rasa Zabarauskaite, Institute of Labour and Social Research