Bizwiki Blog

International Women’s Day: What does it mean to be a woman in today’s business world?

Each year on March 8, it’s International Women’s Day, and an excellent time to reflect on progress made in the workplace towards female equality. Many events, held all around the world, discuss the challenges the future brings when considering: women’s empowerment in the workplace, women’s human rights, issues of poverty, and the role of women as agents of innovation and development. This year’s theme is: “Equality for women is progress for all”.

How can a business support International Women’s Day 2015?

Each year, organisations, including non-government organisations, charities, businesses and governments, are encouraged to adopt a more personal theme relevant to their business area to mark the day. For example, British Petroleum have chosen the theme; “make it happen”, which showcases the achievements of women in the oil and gas industries. The United Nations encourages businesses to measure progress, celebrate “acts of courage and determination” by women in their individual countries and put in place policies to support women managers.

How do women help grow the economy?

The UN research indicates “countries with more gender equality have better economic growth”. How does a business translate this into actionable steps to help women in their enterprises?

PR heavyweights, McKinsey & Company rate the business of empowering women as extremely important when doing business in developing countries. Page 7 of their report: The Business of Empowering Women, suggests these policies form part of any business plan:

• Enabling women to develop marketable skills including education to tertiary level, vocational and technical qualifications, citizenship skills such as financial, family and household management skills.
• Helping women access opportunity for employment – free from “discrimination, harassment and violence”; gaining access to credit facilities; ease of travel, public infrastructure and quality childcare.
• In leadership, supporting women to gain responsible positions – adding the voice of your business to lobbying for equal legal, social, and economic rights for women, ownership laws of property, and the ability to control their own income.

Progress Achieved through Empowering Women in Business

The McKinsey report surveyed private firms about profits and working in developing countries; “34 percent increased profits and 38 percent indicated the expectation that profits will increase as a result of their organisations’ efforts to empower women in developing countries and markets.” For global businesses, or businesses with dealings abroad, the logic is hard to argue with. Help women economically, around the globe, and your own business profits will increase.

The Challenges facing Women’s Progress in Business Environments and Workplaces

If we agree it is fair and decent for women to have the same opportunities as men, putting that thinking into practice is challenging. The McKinsey report survey group found that while many companies (19%) had programmes specifically centred on engaging women’s participation in their company brand or ethos, a large portion reported they “simply had not considered making women a distinct strategy or philanthropic priority.” It seems programmes for women’s empowerment in terms of improving business profits still have a way to go.

Focus on the Future: Education of Women

Studies on women’s education, sponsored by business and government investments, show when the average education level of a country’s adult females goes up one year, the share of women in the workforce increases 1 percent. In BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the N-11 countries (Bangladesh, Mexico, Nigeria, Iran, Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan) increased education for women means that by 2020, per capita incomes are expected to increase 14 percent year-on-year due to education programmes. Keeping the momentum going for education emancipation in developing countries, where women face traditional, cultural and religious barriers to learning at schools, must be an ongoing priority for any business practising in these countries.

Malala Yousafazi, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and Pakistani education activist, believes it is the duty of the strong to help the weak when it comes to education. For those in the business world, there would seem to be a strong incentive to support education and empowerment programmes for women around the world.



 Digg  Reddit  Delicious  Yahoo Bookmarks  Facebook  BlinkList

No Comments

Leave a reply