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Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+): Helping facilitate successful meetings.

Written by Bianca Baldo

Defining GBA+, Intersectionality and Identity Factors.

GBA+ is an analytical tool used to measure how diverse groups of women, men, and non-binary people may experience your policies, programs, services, and products differently. It takes into consideration the intersectional nature of identity and how factors such as age, culture, disability, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, and others, can be impacted by your decisions.

GBA+ provides critical information on which communities of stakeholders will be adversely affected by your activity. In other words, it identifies which communities need to be at your meeting to make informed, productive and impactful decisions, vetted for gender and other equality impacts.

GBA+ strategies and tools have been developed to assist in the design, development, delivery and evaluation of your meetings within your work environment and with external stakeholder groups. This process aims to ensure that your meeting is inclusive, reflecting Canadian diversity, and supporting a commitment to increasing gender and identity equality in society.

Reflects on the impacts of programs, policies and initiatives.

The GBA+ process asks how a proposed action affects men, women, and non-binary people, as well as which identity factors could be affected, making your meeting less representative. For example, the ability of a person to participate in an event may be significantly reduced by location, costs, accessibility and timing. GBA+ asks questions about which identity combinations require substantive outreach and engagement, as well as accommodation to participate.

Why is GBA+ important?

The risk is that without a thorough GBA+ analysis, the voices represented at an event are limited to a select audience based on privilege, access and control. This exclusionary practice ignores the ideas, knowledge, and experience of others who may be impacted by the decisions.

Steps to Support GBA+ in your Meeting.

To support our clients in their GBA+ processes, Intersol Group has identified four simple steps to apply to any meeting that increases diversity, equality, and inclusion, while allowing management to make the best decision based on getting the right people in the meeting.

1- Ask questions about GBA+ early in the organization process.

By incorporating a GBA+ early in your process, you can ensure that these identity factors are included in every aspect of the event.

Depending on if your meeting is internal or external, you can start the process by asking yourself, and your management team the following questions:

–       How are men, women, and non-binary people affected by this meeting, looking at location, costs, accessibility, timing?

–       What other intersectional issues may come into play at the meeting?

–       Based on the information identified in the first two questions, which groups do we need to prioritize in this meeting?

–       Which staff is usually invited to participate in the process? Do they tend to represent only a few identity groups, based on gender, age, ethnicity, race, and other identity factors?

–       Are there internal or external resources that can help scope and develop an inclusive action plan? Is there a champion within your group interested in this work?

–       Amongst the existing staff skills and interests, are there opportunities to promote increased inclusion and diversity in the working groups? If so, make sure to invite them to participate and share critical documents to optimize success.

2.  Ensure that you understand the identity diversity in your meeting, and adjust the format.

Stakeholder consultations to identify barriers and solutions.

The goal of incorporating a GBA+ perspective is to gain a better understanding of different identities and any associated barriers that may encourage or dissuade members from participating in your meeting. To assist in this, organizers need to get a better sense of different barriers that may exist in the targeted identity groups. By reaching out to influential stakeholders within the community of choice through a private conversation, an accommodation form or a targeted survey, you can ask questions regarding the barriers, accommodations and previous feelings of exclusion experienced by community members. It is also an opportunity to hear solutions from the participants themselves.

For example, the barriers experienced by a single parent with childcare obligations may differ from a person with a mobility disability. The single parent may require that the meeting be held between certain hours of the workday. In contrast, a participant with a mobility disability may be concerned about location, accessibility, and walking distance requirements.

Based your GBA+ assessment, you can identify that a particular participant has multiple barriers to participation and requires numerous accommodations. As well, you will be able to pinpoint simple changes that increases the likelihood of participation.  Always remember to provide your participants with a space for them to voice their concerns to help you make the best decision.

Reflect on internal bias and adjust accordingly.

This process can also help you reduce the risks of unconscious bias, which are hidden stereotypes about an identity group, thus affecting your participation at the meeting. As well, this is an excellent opportunity to be an ally by taking actions that support the increased participation of underrepresented groups.

Promote Transparency in your use and implementation of GBA+ findings.

To avoid unnecessary uneasiness, be transparent with the participants about the adoption of their feedback and other essential constraints that will shape your decision. Providing your opinion only to have it ignored without explanation can lead to disengagement.

3. Design your meeting to address barriers and share your process with the group.

Organize logistics and accommodations to address barriers experienced by participants.

When designing your meeting logistics, room set-up, accommodation, and approach, be mindful to include strategies to address barriers to participation. Logistics should take into consideration elements such as the timing of the meeting to maximize family and work balance. Best practices have identified that process should also be mindful of accommodation needs based on accessibility, disability, gender identity, and medical concerns.

If not already completed in the stakeholder consultation step, it is best to circulate an accommodation request form with your participants before the event. This approach creates a safe space that prioritizes different identity factors.

 The room set-up of the meeting can vary, but it is essential to create an environment that fosters openness, respect, and equality. It is generally recommended to place the room in a circular formation, be it one big circle or numerous little circles for group discussion. This formation sets the tone to reflect your commitment to inclusion and diversity while highlighting that everyone’s opinions are valued.

Promote inclusive and diverse design.

The event design can be tailored to highlight the principles of GBA+, diversity, and inclusion. An example could be the development of a clear land acknowledgment protocol, and including this practice in the running of your regular business. It can demonstrate your commitment to reconciliation and respect for the historical wrong-doings to Indigenous communities in Canada. It can also be a bridge to community outreach, illustrating your willingness to implement policies that promote Indigenous cultures in your workplace.

4. Actively model inclusive and diverse behaviors during the meeting.

Set ground rules that reflect diversity and inclusion.

At the beginning of the meeting, the facilitator will establish ground rules based on principles of inclusion, diversity, and equality, allowing the group to set the tone and identify best-practices that shape positive communication and respect for differences. It is essential to make these rules and other participation inputs visible, in order to strengthen accountability and transparency of the process. These ground rules may also be an opportunity to discuss gender identity preferences, such as he-his/she-her/they-them, allowing your participants to verbalize their chosen gender identity in a safe environment.

Promote diversity and inclusion in meeting.

Among others, a facilitator has the role of clarifying expectations, identifying potential risks, keeping the group on track, monitoring communication trends, managing participants, and modeling inclusive behaviors.

A facilitator’s work is to quickly identify the participants that dominate the conversation and adopt inclusive techniques to ensure that all members are being heard.  For example, if a certain identity group is dominating the meeting, the facilitator can reach out to other people with a direct question:

 “I have heard great feedback so far, I was wondering how other participants were feeling, how is the issue different for you?”

By modeling inclusive behavior, the facilitator’s intervention can directly expend the participation of all perspectives at the table.

Incorporate feedback opportunity relating to GBA+.

At the end of the meeting, allow time for feedback on meeting logistics, room set-up, accommodation, and approach. The evaluation activity requires a minimum of 15 minutes but can be useful in developing best practices moving forward.

Be patient and flexible with the GBA+: It’s a process.

Remember, embracing inclusion, diversity, and GBA+ in your meeting requires a willingness to change old practices. Change management is not always easy but can go a long way to getting better quality results that reflects the diversity of the Canadian population. Ultimately, these techniques will foster new and sustainable solutions for your organization or business.

For additional information on our facilitation process, our online training session, and services, please consult