DEBUNK.ORG GENDER EQUALITY PLAN (GEP) 2023–2026
Goals and responsibilities in the Gender Equality Plan
Debunk.org is an independent technology think tank and non-governmental organization that researches disinformation and runs educational media literacy campaigns. Debunk.org carries out disinformation analyses in the Baltic countries, Poland, Georgia and Montenegro, as well as in the United States and North Macedonia together with other partners.
In Lithuania equal rights and opportunities for women and men are enshrined in the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. Consistent and systematic implementation of programmes, measures and projects is aimed at gender equality de facto. The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men since 1998 forbids any discrimination – direct and indirect – on the grounds of sex, harassment on the grounds of sex, sexual harassment and an instruction to directly or indirectly discriminate against persons on the grounds of sex. However, the current state of gender equality in Lithuania has not reached the equality of men and women in terms of their position and opportunities and Lithuania still lags behind other EU member states in this regard.
The Gender Equality Index serves as a tool for measuring progress in gender equality within the EU. It assigns a score ranging from 1 to 100, with 100 indicating full gender equality. In 2022 Lithuania received a score of 60.6 out of 100, ranking it 20th among EU Member States on the Gender Equality Index. This score is 8.0 points lower than the EU's average score. 
Figure 1. The Gender Equality Index in Lithuania compared to EU, 2022
Since 2010 Lithuania’s score has increased by 5.7 points. Lithuania’s progress has been slower compared to other Member States, resulting in a drop in ranking by three places. Since 2019 Lithuania’s score has increased the most (+ 2.2 points) compared to other Member States, but the country has retained its rank at the 20th place. Improvements in the domains of power and knowledge are the main drivers of Lithuania’s higher score.
Lithuania’s ranking is the highest (11th among all Member States) in the domain of work in which it scores 73.9 points. Within this domain, the country performs best in the sub-domain of participation at work, ranking 2nd with a score of 90.8 points (+ 4.8 points since 2010).
Gender inequalities are strongly pronounced in the domain of money (70.4 points) in which Lithuania’s ranking remains consistently low (24th among all Member States) and progress has stalled (only + 0.5 points since 2019).
In order to improve the indicators of gender equality, it is imperative to address these issues systematically. The aim of the Gender Equality Plan of Debunk.org is to ensure equal opportunities and prioritize gender-related aspects across all domains of its disinformation-countering activities. Debunk.org is strongly committed towards gender equality within the working community and in the wider ecosystem.
Debunk.org supports and promotes a diverse and inclusive working culture where everyone is treated equally, respectfully and inclusively, regardless of their background. It does not accept any discrimination against employees on the basis of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation, political activity or any other reason. This code of conduct applies not only to company’s employees but also to all stakeholders, including partners, volunteer community members (elves), students, and others.
Debunk.org supports the development of structures and targeted measures that enhance gender equality and social equality within the organisation. Equality (gender and in a wider context) is emphasised in all processes, including recruitment, competence development, volunteer community building or career progression. The responsibility of promoting gender equality is shared by all Debunk.org employees with strong support of the top management. The Plan is based on data analysis of the activities, discussions with employees and recommendations provided in Horizon Europe Guidance on Gender Equality Plans.
The gender equality function at Debunk.org is overseen by a member of the management team, who has different functions and responsibilities assigned to employees for implementing the actions outlined in the Gender Equality Plan. Progress toward meeting the set objectives will be reported annually, and the Plan will be revised at least once a year. To follow up on the GEP as outlined in the following, the total resources devoted equals 14 working days per year.
Next, we outline the objectives and underlying principles of the Gender Equality Plan, as well as the measures, activities, and policies developed to achieve these goals. These measures are integrated into Debunk.org's daily disinformation-countering activities and have strong support from top management. The training and capacity-building activities are detailed in the sections below. The GEP in its entirety will be published on the official website of Debunk.org.
Based on Debunk.org's activities and opportunities to enhance gender equality, we have identified five primary objectives for the period 2023-2026:
Establishing an environment with work-life balance and organizational culture
Ensuring gender equality in recruitment and career progression
Improving gender balance in leadership and decision-making
Integrating the gender dimension into research and teaching content
Implementing a gender-sensitive communication strategy within Debunk.org ecosystem
Work-life balance and organizational culture
At Debunk.org, both the physical and social settings are designed to promote equality, prevent harassment, and eliminate discrimination. Key components for establishing an environment where all employees can thrive and have equal opportunities in their careers include work-life balance and an organizational culture that encourages it through:
Flexible working arrangements.
Maternity and paternity leave provisions, along with childcare benefits.
Debunk.org collects data on and monitors sex/gender disaggregated data on its personnel, and it is published as part of the annual reporting. Internal data collection and monitoring is done regularly, and reporting is done on the company level, fully respecting the EU GDPR. The collected data include the following:
The percentage share of men and women in Debunk.org
The percentage share of men and women in management positions in Debunk.org
The average age of personnel
The percentage share of men and women in different age groups
Statistics on equal pay
Besides the quantitative information the company conducts regular climate surveys among employees to measure experiences and perceptions of gender equality and equal treatment. The results are analysed from an equality perspective and are presented in the annual reports. The management reviews these reports and discusses further steps as needed. Debunk.org also provides services to support mental health and a healthy lifestyle.
Additionally, Debunk.org offers flexible working hours and supports remote and hybrid work to ensure work-life balance.
As part of various company training courses, Debunk.org raises awareness about gender equality and unconscious biases among employees. These training sessions provide employees with tools and skills to reduce biases in regular work processes, including inclusive recruitment and selection, onboarding, and communication.
Debunk.org encourages all its employees to spend as much precious time as possible with their newborns. Employees are entitled to maternity, paternity and child-care benefits according to Lithuanian law. Maternity leave can be up to three years in length, but no maternity benefit is paid for the third year. Paternity leave is 30 calendar days, which can be taken at any time before the child turns one. Childcare benefits extend to either of the child’s parents (adoptive parents), grandparents, or guardians and can be paid until the child turns one or spread until they turn two. Families raising more children or a disabled child are entitled to additional benefits. Some local authorities may also provide other benefits, such as childcare benefits for those in training or education, child maintenance benefits, or benefits for multiple births.
Gender equality in recruitment and career progression
Debunk.org’s recruitment goal is to attract top disinformation analysts and professionals in their field regardless of their gender, country of origin or other aspects irrelevant for the job performance. In all the company’s recruitments, we utilise a competency-based approach. This means that, in the beginning of the recruitment process, we select the key competences and criteria used for the candidate evaluation through the process to ensure equality and objectivity. During the recruitment process we try to treat all candidates equally, including the type, frequency, and quality of questions asked for all candidates, or in the case of the promotion processes, ensure that feedback is constructive, gender-neutral and unambiguous.
Debunk.org prefers open and publicly advertised recruitment and selection procedures over closed ones. We review our language used in adverts and are aware of language biases in recommendation letters.
Gender balance in leadership and decision-making
Debunk.org strives to be a gender-balanced research company, where its members have equal access to and a balanced participation in leadership and other decision-making roles.
As of 2023, 60% of the members of the top management are women, which is not typical in a technology company. The numbers may change in the future but we consider the representation of the underrepresented gender of at least 40% to be a good gender balance. Additionally, when making decisions, we take into account the gender proportions within various fields of expertise. If one gender dominates in top management, we strive to ensure proportional representation of the underrepresented gender in decision-making bodies whenever possible.
In order to achieve a greater gender balance among the members of the management team, we will:
Consciously pay more attention to gender when searching for the experts and employees.
Prefer a candidate of underrepresented gender if the candidates are of equal standing.
Gender dimension into research and teaching content
Gender dimension is taken into account in the EU and other funding proposals and projects. In addition, Debunk.org has built its own guidelines and examples on how to approach the ethical and gender issues in drawing the research project plans. We also offer internal online gender equality training for all new employees.
Currently, Debunk.org also runs two external courses: ‘Hands-on crash course’ and ‘Civic Resilience Course’. ‘Hands-on crash course’ is meant to train future experts who can join global disinformation countering efforts and ‘Civic Resilience Course’ aims to provide university students with all skills necessary to recognize disinformation they encounter in their daily lives. We strive to achieve gender balance among participants in these external training courses whenever possible, with the goal of representing the underrepresented gender by at least 40%.
During these training courses the participants learn to dissect real life cases of disinformation and learn how to identify sources, assess the content they distribute and circumstances surrounding it. To better understand and assess potential sex and/or gender differences, we integrate the gender dimension into the course content, providing real-life examples from a gender perspective, where applicable.
Implementing a gender-sensitive communication strategy within Debunk.org ecosystem
One of the key roles of Debunk.org is communicating with the society at large about disinformation-countering activities, having an ultimate goal of building public resilience through providing them with skills necessary to recognize false and misleading content in their daily life. Debunk.org provides detailed disinformation reports, leads media literacy campaigns, by providing insights into complex issues in a concise, understandable, yet informative way. Gender equality will also be promoted through communication activities. We will remain gender-aware in all our channels of communication and will:
Monitor our use of language and refrain from reproducing gender stereotypes.
Monitor the representation of men and women in illustrative materials.
Proceed from the principles of gender diversity when writing reports, press releases, news, articles, producing videos, etc.
Emphasise the need to underline the aspects of gender in various materials and statistics: the data, wherever possible, will be disaggregated by gender, if applicable.
Dedicated Gender Quality Officer, Head of Analysis Akvile Katiliene