The UPU has celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8) by hosting a dedicated gender equality event, which brought together leading female figures from the postal sector to discuss the importance of parity in the workforce and how it can lead to a more sustainable future.
The virtual event, which was moderated by UPU Voice Mail podcast host, Ian Kerr, highlighted why gender equality is important in the Post, how posts can play a role in spreading the gender parity message beyond their own operations, what can be done to advance women’s representation in management positions, and how the UPU is advocating diversity in the postal workforce worldwide.
The line-up included Susan Alexander, Postal Regulation and UN Policies Programme Manager at the UPU; Kristin Bergum, Senior Vice President, International and Regulatory Affairs at Posten Norge (Norway); Jennifer Beiro-Réveillé, Senior Director, Environmental Affairs and Corporate Sustainability at the United States Postal Service (USPS), and Pierangela Sierra, Co-Founder and CEO of Latin American grocery e-commerce platform, Tipti, and UNCTAD eTrade for Women Advocate for Latin America (Ecuador).
The UPU’s Alexander highlighted a new resolution which was adopted at the 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan on gender equality and the empowerment of women, which gives the UPU a mandate to promote work towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality during the next four years.
“As a first step we plan to undertake a survey to find out where the Post is in terms of women’s representation,” she said during the event. “As part of this, posts will be able to benchmark themselves to see how they are doing. We will also be developing an international gender policy for the Post, which includes active promotion of gender mainstreaming in the postal sector.”
Alexander also highlighted the important role the Post can play in promoting gender equality through its extensive networks and reach. “Posts can use their networks to promote things like the education of women and girls and distribute campaigns to end discrimination,” she added.
Meanwhile, Posten Norge’s Bergum spoke about how sustainable development can only successfully be achieved by hiring the best workforce, which includes equal representation of men and women. Posten Norge’s management board currently features 60% women and its executive board 40% women.
“To be excellent in the field of sustainable development we need to recruit from 100% of the talent pool, not just from 50% of it,” she explained. “Therefore, we need to employ the most talented men and women and create attractive working environments for both.”
The USPS also has a good representation of women and minority groups in its workforce. According to figures shown by Beiro-Réveillé during the event, 49% of USPS’s workforce are minorities and 46% are women. Meanwhile, 35% of senior management are minorities and 36% women. “We are very proud of our continuing efforts and progress in diversity and inclusion,” she says. “Our focus is to ensure that we represent the communities that we serve, otherwise we are not relevant.”
In her role as UNCTAD eTrade for Women Advocate for Latin America, Pierangela Sierra of Tipti, is encouraging women to challenge gender stereotypes and drive female communities in e-commerce. “We are working very hard to try to drive more women in the STEM area, in particular, because we are so few currently,” she explained. “In my opinion, equality is not a gender issue, it is a business one. Gender equality in Latin America, for example, and in some other parts of the world, seems far behind what we really need in our business and this matters because gender equality improves economic growth and raises social and environmental sustainability.”
To learn more about e-commerce in Latin America, opportunities for posts to partner with SMEs in the e-commerce sector, and challenges and opportunities that the sector currently presents to women entrepreneurs, stay tuned for the release of the Voice Mail podcast Episode 10 with Pierangela Sierra, which will be available on all streaming platforms at the end of March.