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Why Should Businesses Act?

A Vietnamese woman speaks with two female staff members in a kitchen.

How does empowering women and increasing gender diversity lead to better business?

It improves the bottom line

The research and evidence is clear: Empowering women, as employees and consumers, and increasing gender diversity within a company leads to better business and economic outcomes through increased profitability, productivity, and company effectiveness. The World Bank has stated that productivity per worker could rise by up to 40% by eliminating all forms of discrimination against female workers and managers.

Reaching gender equality would add $12 trillion to the global economy as the workforce begins to reach its full potential. This directly impacts private sector success by (1) the emergence of a bigger marketplace to sell goods and services; and (2) lifting millions out of poverty, especially women and girls.

It is central to corporate responsibility

As companies seek to execute on purpose beyond profit, and as employees and consumers look to companies for the same, gender equality is central to improving the world while conducting business.

It attracts and retains talent

Even before COVID-19 changed how we work, flexible working arrangements and support for employees with family and caring responsibilities were attractive propositions for employees of any gender. Not only do flexible and supportive workplaces attract talent and increase productivity, they help retain people as well.

What role should companies play?

The private sector, often before government acts, plays a critical role in removing systemic barriers to employment and advancement:

  • Ensuring equal opportunity for jobs;
  • Providing support for career advancement, including parental leave, caretaking assistance, and flexible working schedules;
  • Ensuring leadership inside companies is gender-diverse;
  • Removing policies, language, processes, and individuals that discriminate, maintain unconscious bias, and allow for gender-based violence.
  • Doing everything possible to help women, especially women of color, reach their full potential.

Businesses can make change with speed and scale that the private sector and civil society cannot. That enables the private sector to accelerate the pace of change toward gender equality.

Everyday decisions make a difference in the drive for gender equality. Decisions made by factory managers, human resources, sourcing, and community engagement can all have a positive or negative impact on gender equality. This playbook seeks to give direction to companies for those everyday decisions.


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