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The Corporate sector’s ‘go to’ resource for gender equality

14th April, 2020

The PNG Business Coalition for Women (BCFW) is a group of businesses that recognise the business benefits of gender equal workforces. More importantly, the ‘Coalition’ develops resources to help its member businesses recruit more female employees, as well as train, develop and promote them in to leadership positions. Six years after its foundation in 2014, the Coalition has firmly staked its position as the PNG corporate sector’s ‘go to’ resource for gender equality.

PNG corporate heavyweights like BSP, Steamships, Oil Search, Exxon Mobil and New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPOL) are all long term members of the Coalition which boasts 48 members representing more than 25,000 employees.

Coalition Chair and CEO of Origin Energy, Lesieli Taviri, reports that the Coalition has resources that assist its member businesses to:

  • Improve the leadership and management skills of talented female staff
  • Prepare senior female staff for executive level positions
  • Give senior female staff the necessary skills to be represented on company boards
  • Develop the networking capabilities of female staff
  • Maximise the workplace safety of female staff
  • Minimise the considerable business cost of family and sexual violence (FSV)
  • Reduce sexual harassment

“Not only do our resources help member businesses achieve their gender equality goals” says Taviri “they also help them derive maximum value from their female workforce and become ‘employers of choice’ in their sectors. Being an employer of choice is critical no matter where you are in the world but especially in PNG where we have such a small talent pool to draw from.”

When asked about the quality of the Coalition’s services, Executive Officer Evonne Kennedy is emphatic in her response. “Our services are second to none and in some instances we have lead the global community such as with our FSV workplace policy. Moreover, we are one of the highest quality training providers in PNG.” She also asks that people consider the calibre and reputation of the businesses which have long supported the Coalition as well as the increasing number of businesses that want to be associated with it and to sponsor its activities. Kennedy points to the success of Coalition programs such as the Cert IV in Leadership & Management and the overwhelming demand for its Directorship Program and Senior Executive Womens Program, the repeat purchase behaviour of clients like BSP and Digicel, the member businesses including Oil Search and NBPOL involved in service development, the numerous positive testimonials from business leaders and their staff alike, as well as the ongoing requests for additional service development and assistance.

Although the Coalition has had considerable success in delivering its breadth of gender equality services in Port Moresby, Kennedy concedes that it has struggled to gain equal traction in other parts of the country. “2020 is definitely the year for us to expand our geographic footprint especially in Lae and we anticipate attracting board members from these regions.” Keen to increase the accessibility of their services, the Coalition has already begun sending trainers and gender experts more frequently to Lae, which greatly reduces member business costs of sending staff to Port Moresby.

In addition to a focus on geographic expansion in 2020, the Coalition is also concentrating on additional product development, especially with regard to facilitating the inclusion of women owned businesses into members’ supply chains. Kennedy explains that not only do Coalition businesses want to improve the gender credentials of their workforces but also their supply chains.

“Many of our member businesses have articulated a keen desire to support women owned businesses but they’ve also simultaneously expressed their frustration of not knowing how to go about this, including an inability to identify businesses that meet the necessary criteria. At present we’re working with several members as well as with the Women’s Business Resource Centre to develop a resource that will help solve this problem.”

  • BCFW Executive Officer Evonne Kennedy

All of the Coalition’s resources are responsive to the needs of the PNG business community. They are also ‘culturally nuanced’ and many of them can be tailored to suit the characteristics and requirements of individual businesses reports Kennedy. “Our member businesses tell us what they need and then we design, pilot test and refine the service right here in PNG with the assistance of our members. Our ‘made in PNG for PNG’ approach results in sustainable services that are tailor made for the PNG business environment and match the needs of our members.”

Now in its sixth year of operation, the Business Coalition for Women has firmly established itself as PNG’s ‘go to’ resource for gender equality. To learn more about the Coalition and how it can help your business reap the benefits of a more gender equal workforce visit: Home.

The Coalition is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea as part of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program.

Featured in the PNG Report April/May 2020