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The German Caritas is not a corporation but an association of 8,250 legally independent entities. Each is responsible for its own personnel management and economic decisions. When it comes to the objective of increasing gender equity, there is a clear consensus: In 2011, our highest decision body, the Delegate Assembly, has manifested this consensus in a specific resolution.
A study conducted by the Katholische Hochschule Freiburg (Freiburg Catholic Academy) interviewing 300 Caritas leaders was able to determine the reasons behind the low share of women in leadership positions: It is not the leadership capability but the commitment to advancement which needs to be nurtured in motivated female talent. Organizational culture also plays an important role. The stereotype of the male, ever-ready manager still dominates, while women tend to be associated with family responsibilities.
This is where ‘Gleichgestellt in Führung gehen’ (Bringing equity to leadership) comes in, a project financed by the European Social Fund. Between 2012 and 2014, five different Caritas sites representing different segments of our association served as pilots implementing staff related and organizational development measures. The results include a development concept and mentoring program for female potentials as well as a network uniting Caritas women leaders. These measures are described in more detail in a practical guideline which helps to support other organizations within Caritas and the socio-economic domain in their quest for gender equity. A sequel project focused on gender equity and organizational culture is being planned.
Since 2016, a network of Caritas associations and companies have been collaborating in the “Geschlecht. Gerecht gewinnt” project to implement a gender-balanced organizational culture.