Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Women’s economic inequality is bad for business

Businesses need to play their part for women’s economic equality and respect international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as laws in many countries that aim to secure gender equality and rights in the workplace. Yet dividends for businesses that promote women’s economic equality are significant – beyond the legal or reputational risks of failing to respect the law.
Empowering women creates a more talented and diverse pool of workers, a more reliable and sustainable supply of commodities and new or expanded markets for products and services. Indeed, research shows that the financial returns of companies with three or more women on their board are in general better than for companies without women at the top, by some estimates even with a 47% average on equity.
 Also, strong links exist between diverse leadership teams and catering for broader array of stakeholders and this hardly stops at the boardroom.
 Pursuing rapid, short-term returns at the expense of women is thus not only unjust but also unsustainable and unprofitable for any business in the long term. There is undoubtedly scope for business to help break down the barriers that prevent women from achieving their full economic potential, while still generating returns.
However, this is only possible if investments are made in enforcing legal regulations, social security, and decent and equitable work. The key challenge is moving from a few industry champions to the mainstream, from CSR to corporate accountability, and from the pursuit of shortterm returns, to sustainable, profitable and ethical business models for the long-term.


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