Five steps to a feminist audit

Women’s Health West (WHW) has developed an audit tool to measure whether we conform to the feminist theories, practices and behaviours that guide our work.

Step 1: Define your feminism

Hold workshops to investigate whether staff have a shared understanding of what it is to be a ‘feminist organisation’. We defined feminism as,

a theoretical analysis of patriarchy, power and gendered structural inequities, as well as a political movement that raises awareness of, and works to challenge and change, structures and systems that oppress women – with the ultimate goal being a just and equitable society for all.

Step 2: Review other definitions

Review the literature on feminist understandings of theory, behaviour and practice. We focussed our review:

  • At an organisational level
  • In our work with clients and community
  • As managers
  • Within teams, and
  • In relation to our individual responsibility for building a strong feminist culture at WHW

Step 3: Convert theory into practice

Convert feminist theory into concrete workplace practices and behaviours that can be measured. We drafted a snapshot of five areas of feminist workplace practice:

  • Feminist organisations
  • Feminist understandings of working with clients and community groups
  • Feminist management
  • Feminist understandings of teamwork
  • Feminist understandings of individual responsibility

Step 4: Is it feminist or just ‘best practice’?

Behaviours and practices should be informed by feminist theory, not simply ‘good practice’ or another theoretical standpoint or discipline, such as health promotion. This distinction can be difficult to make, given that some feminist workplace practices have been accepted and integrated into mainstream services.

Step 5: Measure it

Develop an audit tool tailored to your organisation that:

  • Identifies your successes and,
  • Assesses areas of feminist theory, practice and behaviour that you need to strengthen

Our audit tool is aligned with our strategic plan to ensure that feminism informs and is embedded in governance and operations of our organisation.

The tool forms part of Working in a Feminism Organisation, a package that details our shared understanding of feminism, the story of WHW’s feminist beginning and an overview of the feminist theoretical perspectives that inform our work.

For further information please contact Elly Taylor at elly@whwest.org.au.