The Case for Gender Equality

Unlocking the potential of women and girls results in significant positive impacts on business productivity and the bottom line, as well as for families and communities around the world.

The business and economic case for advancing gender equality is stronger than ever. Recent research indicating that achieving gender equality can add $12 trillion to the global economy and gender diversity at all levels of the organization leads to increased profitability, productivity, and organizational effectiveness. Governments, Civil Society, and the United Nations are increasingly looking to engage and partner with companies that have a commitment to advancing gender equality. Furthermore, investors are looking at a company’s performance on gender equality as an indicator for future growth.

Despite this opportunity many social, economic, and legal barriers for women still exist; preventing them from entering the workforce, progressing in their careers and growing their businesses. Recent research suggests that at the current rate of change it will take over 100 years to achieve economic equality between men and women. Additionally, women continue to be subjected to discrimination, unconscious bias, and violence further impeding their opportunities to contribute to the formal labour force and sustainable growth.

All actors will need to make concerted efforts to accelerate the pace of change, but business—the engine for 90 per cent of jobs in developing countries, the source of technology innovators, capital creators and investors—has a tremendous opportunity to make positive impacts. Increasingly research is pointing to the positive bottom line impacts of investing in women to achieve their full potential, including: respecting and supporting women’s health which can reduce turnover and absentee rates, providing onsite childcare facilities to increase productivity, addressing legal and social barriers to unleash new market opportunities, and create specific professional development programmes for women to increase opportunities for innovation and differing perspectives at senior leadership levels.

The business case for specific policies and practices is integrated throughout the tool to assist you in your journey and to help you communicate to your colleagues how important this is to your company.


Companies with diverse workforces are: 22% more productive, have 27% higher profitability and 39% higher customer satisfaction

Source: Cumulative Gallup Workplace Studies

GAP: Women still represent less than 5 percent of CEOs at S&P 500 companies

Source: Catalyst

Every dollar spent on key interventions for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health leads to an estimated US $20 in benefits through reduced absenteeism.

Source: The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

GAP: Globally, women earn approximately 77 percent of what men earn. At this rate, pay equity between women and men will not be achieved before 2086

Source: International Labour Organization


Productivity per worker could rise by up to 40% by eliminating all forms of discrimination against female workers and managers.

Source: World Bank

A Platform to Measure Private Sector Contribution to Gender Equality and the SDGs

The empowerment of women and girls is critical to achieving a sustainable, just, and inclusive world. In September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted a plan, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, for achieving a better future for all. The Agenda 2030 lays out a path over the next 15 years for all nations to work collectively towards ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and protecting our planet. At the heart of Agenda 2030 are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which clearly define the world we want in which no one is left behind. The empowerment of women and girls is at the heart of SDG 5—the stand-alone goal on gender equality—as well as an essential component to achieving the gender-specific targets across the other 16 Goals.

The SDGs explicitly call on companies to connect business strategies with global priorities by addressing negative impacts and investing, creating, employing, and innovating to solve the world’s greatest sustainable development challenges. Successful implementation of the SDGs also has benefits to business. Achievement of the Goals will strengthen the enabling environment for doing business, increase opportunities for trade and investment, and lead to new market opportunities. Businesses that are taking a leadership role in advancing gender equality will in turn also be contributing to creating a sustainable world in which no one is left behind. The WEPs Tool is a platform for companies to assess and measure their actions to advance gender equality and achieve the SDGs.