Why is the private sector key to women empowerment?

By Gabriela Solís, UN WEPs reporter

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 universal goals and targets to address key challenges in the United Nations member states, has as its fifth goal to achieve gender equality, put an end to women discrimination and empower “all women and girls in all levels.”

In achieving this goal, the private sector constitutes a key partner, especially when empowering women in the workplace.

A great number of women is employed by large corporations and SME companies which “value chains touch all economies and nearly every person on Earth,” as UN Women has recognized. Still, a clear majority of these women suffer different types of inequality and gender-based discrimination in the workplace, such as payment disparity, denying women promotions due to pregnancy or to motherhood, and lack of opportunities to surpass the famous “glass ceiling”.

This discriminatory behaviour toward female professionals has led to having less than 5% of CEO positions in the S&P leading 500 companies, according to UN statistics. Furthermore, a new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.

Committed companies are needed to encourage talented women who want to pursue a successful career, notwithstanding the circumstances around them. Acting accordingly will not only improve women’s rights, but as data has shown, will be a profitable choice for enterprises and moreover, for the rest of the world.

Guiding companies towards that goal is what the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) were born for. Through their seven principles, companies can successfully become a women empowerment platform for all their female employees, allowing them to reach the top of their game and hopefully, inspiring others.

As Hopscotch’s co-founder and WEP’s taskforce member, Helen McGuire has stated, “with women in a senior position in such companies, policy and approaches are directly affected in ways that further attract and help retain or develop female talent […] Seeing women at the top of their game helps to push a new generation and gives hope to those struggling to move upwards.”

What better way to illustrate this statement than with the example set by one of our signatory companies, Listaproperty, who recently hosted the “Take Your Daughters to Work Day,” an event that encouraged working mothers to bring their daughters to work for half day.

We can also take a look at the work done by another one of our signatory companies, Abela & Co, one of the leading food service management companies in the region, which launched various activities to support women. Among their achievements, they contributed to the World Diabetes Day 2017 focusing on women’s health and diabetes and their right to a healthy future.

Through concrete actions supported and encouraged by WEPs, our signatory companies are making a difference in the life of the women around them; and so, could your company.

A wide range of activities can take place to empower women and to strengthen their rights in the work field. WEPs can help you in that mission.

Become a WEP’s signatory member and join many other enterprises committed to leveling the playing field for all women in the workplace, marketplace, and community.

To register and become a signatory of the WEPs UAE local network, click here or contact our Outreach Team at Hanane.Arif@socgen.com and malouf.ag@pg.com.