In April, World Bank President Jim Kim and Ivanka Trump made a case in the Financial Times for the importance of closing the gender pay gap, increasing access to finance for women, and enacting regulatory and legal policies to increase women’s economic participation. These goals cannot be achieved without businesses committing to action, and many already have done so. These actions make their workplaces more fair and create an advantage in the race to attract and retain talent, while also increasing their bottom line and shareholder value. Highlighted here are principles and indices that have been developed over the last decade to mark, report on, and reflect the depth of companies’ commitments to women’s empowerment.
Certifications and Reporting
Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) Certification. EDGE, a global business certification standard, was launched at the World Economic Forum in 2011. EDGE applies business discipline to achieving workplace gender equality, focusing on metrics and accountability. It assesses policies, practices and data across five areas: equal pay for equivalent work; recruitment and promotion; leadership development; flexible work; and company culture. There are three stages of EDGE certification:
● EDGE Assess: The company makes a public commitment to a strong gender balance across the talent pipeline, pay equity, a solid framework of gender equality policies and practices and an inclusive workplace culture. The company identifies a concrete action plan.
● EDGE Move: The company has implemented a framework for change and achieved significant milestones on the key issues, and commits to sharpening its action plan.
● EDGE Lead. The company has a strong gender balance across the talent pipeline, pay equity, a solid framework of gender equality policies and practices and inclusive workplace culture, and puts gender equality to work for business results.
EDGE works with more than 150 companies and organizations in over 40 countries. Examples include SAP, L’Oréal, Asian Development Bank, and the IFC.
Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). The WEPs were established by UN Women, in conjunction with the UN Global Compact, the business community and governments in 2010. The WEPs emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Each principle is accompanied by concrete actions. In brief, the principles are to:
1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality.
2. Treat all women and men fairly at work.
3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all workers.
4. Promote education, training and professional development for women.
5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.
6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy.
7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.
Principle 7 underscores the importance of accountability. To date, 1,450 plus companies have signed onto the WEPs from across the globe, including Alcoa, ANN Inc., Coca-Cola entities, Deloitte, Hilton, Merck, and Pepsi. The G7 and the US Chamber of Commerce also promote the WEPs.
Indices of Progress
PAX Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund. To say PAX has been a trailblazer in this field is an understatement. This fund invests in companies that are leaders in advancing women through gender diversity. Companies are rated by PAX World Gender Analytics, with representation of women on boards and in senior management receiving the highest weights. Other factors include whether the company has a woman CEO, a woman CFO and is a signatory to the WEPs.
Equileap. Launched in 2017, this analysis compares corporate progress towards gender equality across sectors. The Gender Scorecard examines 19 data points in four categories: gender balance in leadership and workforce; equal compensation and work/life balance; policies to promote gender equality; and commitment to women’s empowerment. The highest score possible was 35, and top performers received 22 points. In addition to measuring progress, the scorecard allows investors to see which companies are doing well by their employees; employees to obtain critical information when making career decisions; and governments to identify role models. Companies ranking highest were L’Oréal, Pearson, National Australia, Sodexo, BTG and Telia; the highest-ranking U.S. company was Merck. Highest ranked countries were Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and the UK. Top sectors were communications, finance and utilities.
Bloomberg Financial Services Gender Equality Index (GEI). In 2016, Bloomberg unveiled GEI to showcase what the biggest financial players are doing to promote gender equality. It includes 52 best-in-class public companies in the financial industry in terms of providing opportunities for women. GEI was created to satisfy investor demand, as a growing number are looking to gender equality data to inform investment decisions.