Gender Equality: Pilot Program Update

Blog, 23rd May 2023, Hong Kong & London

May 23, 2023

Blog, 23rd May 2023, Hong Kong & LondonIn the toy industry, the majority of factory workers are women. In China specifically, the world's leading centre for toy manufacture, approximately 60% of toy factory workers are female (BSR, 2019).The Gender Equality program established by the ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP), with initial program development funded by Mattel, seeks to promote equality in the workplace, to empower female workers and help companies meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal no.5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Work on the pilot began in late 2022, when IETP conducted needs assessments at the 12 participating factories. The needs assessment process was designed to learn of employees’, including management’s, current awareness levels of gender equality and of the workplace gender equality policies already in place. Identified NeedThese assessments showed that nearly half of all the piloting factories did not have any written Gender Equality policy. Such policies would explain their support of gender equality such as equal career development opportunities, equal compensation, and benefits. In addition, just under half of participating factories did not have an established internal grievance channel for processing and dealing with issues of discrimination. Baseline results further showed that 34% of management believed that male employees were more valuable than female employees, and 40% of workers did not disagree with the statement that sexual harassment is caused by a worker wearing revealing clothing or sexual appearance. These insights show the clear need for more education and support to be provided to achieve the UN’s SDG no.5. Toy manufacturers are not unique, these attitudes and beliefs are to be found in every sector and in every country. IETP and its members are committed to taking action to address these inequalities.Targeted capability buildingIn addition to this, we learned that in 83% of the piloting factories, over 60% of the decision-making roles were held by male workers. Following this assessment process, and in response to the needs identified, IETP developed two specialist training programs, one for middle and senior management and the other for frontline managers. These programs are designed to raise awareness, build confidence, and enable factories to establish and improve their gender equality policies. The program was piloted at 12 factories across 6 different areas of mainland China, and by February 2023, the program had completed 24 in-person training sessions, with over 600 individuals from supervisor and management levels participating. Looking to the futureLooking ahead, the program will take lessons learned from this pilot and continue to conduct needs & impact assessments to provide support to individual factories, helping them to develop & implement gender equality policies and training at their facilities. IETP has developed a Gender Equality video learning series which is available to all IETP participating factories as well as a Gender Equality handbook which factories can use to develop & implement their own gender equality policies, with the support of IETP. The Gender Equality program is available to all IETP members and is free for factories to participate in. IETP encourages factories to sign up for individual support and to make use of the resources available. We will continue to provide updates on this program as we continue to develop the program. Contact IETP at to learn more about the program.