SDG 5: The Role of Business in Achieving Gender Equality
Today the blog is about SDG 5, gender equality and the actions a business should take to support gender equality across its complex and diverse global supply chain. A few months ago, I saw a post on Twitter by Marks and Spencer (M&S). The post was about M&S’ commitment to digitally pay women within its supply chain, which sparked a debate on Twitter groups. People could not believe that M&S were not already doing so. I was pleased to see it. In other words, M&S recognised the problem and they were working to resolve it. So what does it mean and why does it matter?
Encourage Gender Equality in Supply Chains
Supply chain management is diverse and difficult to trace. Corporations, such as M&S, Unilever, SC Johnson and Walmart, have a deep network of businesses that make up their global supply chains. Traceability of environmental, social and ethical issues is complex because of the number of layers, how work is contracted and then sub-contracted.
In Europe and North America, most people will be paid digitally. Salaries are transferred into a bank account. When you move out of these continents, the situation will be the opposite. For example, in Asia and Africa, people will still be paid manually, despite rapid economic growth. The deeper you dig into a multinational global supply chain, the more you will come across cash in hand payments. The livelihood of women continues to degrade due this form of payment.
Although the number of women who work across supply chains has risen, their lives are marginally improving. Often, salaries are handed to the head of the family. In most cases, it is a husband, father or in-laws. Handing over income is a culturally acceptable practice and often mutually agreed. Sometimes wages are forcefully taken away. The money supports illicit habits, such as, alcohol and gambling and leaves nothing behind for the household. When women require money for personal use, they must ask for it. They are questioned for every small request. Such issues have been contributing to the continued increase of women living in poverty.
Business Support for SDG 5 Gender Equality
- Transfer your payroll to digital systems such as BACs.
- Offer women in the workplace money saving workshops and encourage the same with suppliers.
- Review internal policies, training and recruitment practices.
- Carry out pension forums to explain pension schemes.
- Ensure women earn the same as men doing the same role, close the gender pay gap.
- Ask to see the payment/wage policy from new and existing suppliers.
- Encourage digital payment systems. Local entrepreneurs and large corporations alike have identified the gap in the digital payment market. As a result, they are leading the way in mobile payment systems. In Kenya, for example, the mobile payment app known as, M-Pesa, owned by Vodaphone, has become one of the most popular methods for payments. According to a report by the BBC, 73 percent of Kenyans have a mobile payment account. With the growing demand for quick payment methods, supply chains can explore salary payment systems using such apps. This will encourage traceability of payment equality and accessibility for women. It will also enable women to retain money for personal use, thereby improving their livelihood.
- Collaborate with global suppliers to facilitate workshops so women are financially well informed.
- Upskill women and encourage them to take up educational workshops whether it is vocational or academic.
Support Gender Equality At Home
Whilst we talk about empowering women, it is equally important to recognise that men have a critical role to play in women’s empowerment and gender equality:
- Raise sons to treat their sisters and female friends as equals so when they enter the work environment, respect and equality is already a part of their values and beliefs.
- Empower and support women to recognise their abilities and strengths. Ensure that this same vision is forwarded to future generations.
- Encourage male colleagues to treat women as equals, respect them, and value their work and opinions in the same manner.
We can achieve SDG 5 once business support for gender equality is embedded within business practices. Regardless of the size or location, a business can support gender equality by taking small steps, locally and globally.
Raise sons to treat their sisters and female friends as equals. So when they enter the work environment, respect and equality is already a part of their values and beliefs. #DayoftheGirl #SDG5 #GenderEquality #SDGs Click To Tweet
Did you know?
- Women earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men get for the same work.
- 35 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.
- Females represent just 13 percent of agricultural landholders.
- Almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
- Two thirds of developing countries have achieved gender parity in primary education.
- Only 24 percent of national parliamentarians were women as of November 2018, a small increase from 11.3 percent in 1995.
Do you want to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 targets? Below are links to blog articles written to assist small businesses with SDG ideas: