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Sustainability Focus - 08/03/2019

Gender diversity in the workplace: baby steps but miles to go!

Public debate around gender equality has been enjoying a new boom over the past years. Indeed, stakeholders have enhanced their expectation regarding companies’ ability to prevent gender discrimination and promote gender equality.

Innovative products such as “gender bonds”, aiming at pushing funds to invest in companies promoting working gender equality and women professional empowerment, have emerged on the market and met relevant success among investors.

Non discrimination is a fundamental right which has been recognized in international norms and standards (ie. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U.N. Global Compact, ILO convention etc.), and all companies, regardless of economic sector or country of origin, are concerned. Discrimination, whether caused by actual deeds or perceived as giving rise to a “climate of discrimination” can affect the legal security, the reputation, the organisational efficiency and the human capital cohesion of a company.

On the other hand, businesses which are proactive in promoting diversity can attract workforce, improve their brand image and foster innovation and productivity. Multiple research studies confirm the benefits of gender diverse boards and managers, including improved business results, better decision making and a contribution to more employee engagement and talent retention .

International Women’s Day, on March 8th, highlights the fight for women’s rights, more than 40 years after the launch of this day of mobilization by the United Nations. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity . Is gender equality possible to reach? Where do companies stand on this? Vigeo Eiris contributes to this important celebration with a research paper analyzing business practices in terms of non-discrimination and promotion of equal opportunity. The reference universe is composed of 4,659 companies listed worldwide and operating in 39 sectors.

Data have been collected between January 2017 to January 2019. Main findings reveal that despite some progresses, women’s access to the highest management positions in companies remains difficult and the gender imbalance remains stagnant, even in countries where the regulatory framework encourages gender equality.

Read the complete Vigeo Eiris Findings in the Focus below

 

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Keywords : Corporate Governance, Equality, Gender