Photo: Darline Giraud (WIO Network)

What are the pathways and strategies that lead to a position in International Organisations (IOs)? How to make recruitment for a post in IOs change? How can IOs ensure that gender parity goes forward? Those were some critical questions raised at the conference organized by WIO Network – Women for Careers in International Organisations, at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. WIO Network is a community of professionals with the mission to attract more qualified women to professional level and leadership positions at the United Nations and IOs.

In a presentation of the WIO Network case study report and recommendations “Working at the UN: What does it take?,” Judith Kohlenberger, holder of a PhD from the Institute for Social Policy at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) provided a few answers.

For the UN, the recommended strategies were to invest in a shorter, more concise, and transparent recruiting process to prevent the re-orientation and de-motivation of the candidates, as well as to provide guidance, counseling and targeted mentoring to female applicants. In addition, the UN should address the candidates’ gender-specific challenges, such as relocation, dependents, family and career development.

For the candidates interested in applying for the UN, a set of actions could bring better results, including to be proactive in their job search, to network with peers and potential employers and to find a mentor within the UN. Women should be confident in their professional qualifications and personal character traits, as well as be flexible regarding postings, relocation, and UN agencies. Voluntary work is also recommended, as well as to become very familiar with all aspects of the UN system.

This conference facilitated the coming together of over 100 participants, mostly women, recruiters, employees of different IOs, and other supportive professional women networks based in Vienna, to learn more about the application process, find out how to be a successful applicant and listen and exchange professional and personal experiences. These exchanges happened through a series of presentations, webinars and workshops, which covered topics like design thinking, job hunting in IOs, Personal Marketing and Agile International Development Career in the Gig Economy. Personal stories of women in male-dominated positions in IT, Sciences and PeaceKeeping were shared, including the journey of Vera Strobachova-Budway, Senior Coordination Adviser on Gender Issues at the OSCE.

Gustavo Araujo, Chief of Recruitment at OSCE Talent Management and Human Resources and Marta Mazarambroz, Recruitment Officer at OSCE, illustrated how workplace environment has changed the dynamics of the recruitment process in IOs. Civil Servants, who still have to compete with each other, now have also to compete with talents from the private sector. Araujo stressed that “successful candidates are expected to be flexible in terms of relocation, attaining new skills and demonstrating their uniqueness.”

The conference ended with a debate over the case study recommendations and future strategies for female applicants. The panelist Theresa Tomasitzch, former Gender Strategy Consultant at UNIDO, stressed how essential it is not only to have more women in IOs but also “to have them at the middle and senior positions.” A recommendation for longer maternity leave, as opposed to the current family friendly policy, and for flexible working arrangements in leadership roles, as an incentive to attract women in the IOs was also proposed.

Given the recent pushbacks in striving for a system of wide gender parity, collaboration between the different actors in IO environments should continue so that women who are interested in a career in international organisations continue to get assistance in packaging their skills and experience within the IOs networks. Darline Giraud, Founder of the WIO Network, emphasized the importance of having a network to land a job in an IO. This network must be based on “giving and receiving” information, strengths, support, and sharing of experience. This will not only help women to accomplish their personal goals but also to have a successful career in International Organisations.

By: Kristina Malbasic kristina@malbasic.at

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