Definitions & Glossary

A

All levels

Includes all employee levels—from top management to entry level to operational functions.

Access to Quality Health Services

While governments have the primary responsibility to provide access to health, employers have an opportunity to support or supplement government health care programmes; improving the health of their employees and benefiting both financially and socially. Research shows ensuring that workers have safe working conditions and available health services—including services specific to women's health, sexual and reproductive healthcare—can lead to healthier and more productive staff, better employer-employee relationships, higher return on investment, and lower long term health costs.

Source:
     Call to action: Investing in Women’s Right to Health

Advocacy

Advocacy is the deliberate process, based on demonstrated evidence, of directly and indirectly influencing decision makers, stakeholders, and relevant audiences to support and implement actions which contribute to the fulfilment of women’s rights.

Source:
     UNICEF

B

Business Case

A type of decision-making tool used to determine the effects a particular decision will have on profitability. Research shows, gender equality on teams and in leadership can have positive impacts including on return on investment, organizational effectiveness, talent retention, and productivity.

Sources:
     Business Dictionary
     McKinsey & Company
     WEPs

Business Travel and Client Entertainment

Companies should have appropriate measures in place to monitor business travel and client entertainment to ensure company funds are not supporting inappropriate business expenses such as adult entertainment, prostitution, or other forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls. Monitoring mechanisms can include expense audits, interviews with employees, or approval processes.

Beneficiaries of community projects

The person or persons that derive benefit from a specific project, investment, or programme.

Breastfeeding and Pumping

According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding is critical to the health and survival of newborns. The WHO recommends exclusively breastfeeding a newborn for the first 6 months of the baby's life. Providing a clean and safe environment that is conducive to workplace pumping benefits the health of the mother and child. Clean and safe pumping environments can include: clean water to wash and sanitize pumping equipment, locked doors so that mothers can have privacy, and fridges to store milk.

Source:
     World Health Organization

C

Commitment/Policy

Policies or commitments can also be reflected in collective arrangements which regulate the terms and conditions between an employer and employee or group of employees.

Compressed Work WeeksPredictable hourly shifts

A compressed work week involves working hours being scheduled over fewer than normal working days. It results in longer working days, but fewer days being worked each week. Many workers around the world are subject to unpredictable hourly shifts. Unpredictable schedules can cause anxiety as employees are not able to anticipate weekly income, schedule child or dependent care, or meet other personal needs. Employers can work with employees to design schedules that are predictable and accommodate (as best as possible) non-work related responsibilities.

Source:
     International Labour Organization

Corporate Sustainability

The UN Global Compact defines Corporate Sustainability as “a company’s creation of long-term value in financial, social, environmental and ethical terms.” Gender equality is both a means and an end to corporate sustainability. Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity is essential to: building strong economies; establishing more stable and just societies; achieving internationally-agreed goals for development, sustainability and human rights; and propelling businesses’ operations and goals.

Sources:
     UN Global Compact
     WEPs

D

Domestic Violence— Business case for preventing and supporting victims of domestic violence

Beyond the emotional and physical impacts of domestic violence on individuals and families, it can have tremendous impacts on the bottom line. Research shows domestic violence can increase the employee's absenteeism and tardiness, threaten the employee's ability to maintain a job, and decrease productivity. Employers can play an important role in providing safe spaces for employees while at work and through the recovery process (including: helping to make needed adjustments in time and location of work, offering free and confidential counseling and support, providing paid leave for people who experience violence).

Source:
     Male Champions of Change

Dependent Care

Dependent care benefits are voluntary, employer-sponsored programmes aimed at helping employees take care of their families. Dependents can include children, adults, spouse, parents, or someone who falls in the employee’s care. Research shows that policies and programmes that support dependent care can help reduce tardiness and absenteeism, increase productivity, and strengthen employee commitment to the company.

Sources:
     Sloan Work and Family Research Network
     Society for Human Resource Management

Due Diligence and Human Rights Impact Assessments

The Guiding Principles state that companies should have policies and processes appropriate to their size and circumstances, to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for how they address their potential and actual impacts on human rights. These practices should be integrated into a company’s management systems and broader strategy. They should extend to all business relationships, including potential suppliers and vendors, to ensure these business relationships do not violate the company’s commitment to responsible business. Due diligence on suppliers and vendors could include: human rights impact assessments, worker surveys, sustainability ratings, and reviewing information submitted to operational level grievance mechanisms.

Sources:
     The Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights
     UN Global Compact

Does the company encourage suppliers and vendors to advance performance on gender equality?

Regardless of a company’s overall commitment to gender equality at headquarters, low standards of business conduct in their value and supply chains can seriously undermine and discredit any global efforts to protect the rights of women. Actively engaging with suppliers and encouraging them to commit to gender equality enables companies to address social, ethical, and environmental impacts within the value and supply chains, protect the long-term viability of their business, secure a social license to operate, and increase labour productivity.

Sources:
     BSR
     UN Global Compact

E

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Women and men have the right to receive equal remuneration (basic or minimum wage or salary) for work of equal value (commonly referred to as “equal pay”). Not only should men and women get equal pay for doing the same or a similar job, but also when they do work that is completely different but which, based on objective criteria, is of equal value. Equal pay is a recognized human right, to which all men and women are entitled.

Source:
     International Labour Organization

Employee Levels

Top management (reporting formally and directly to the CEO), Upper management (reporting formally and directly to the top management), Middle management (reporting formally and directly to the upper management), Junior/entry level (reporting formally and directly to the middle management), and Operational functions (not included in any of the above categories)

Source:
     EDGE Certification

F

Flextime

Allows for employees to vary work hours depending on personal needs.

Source:
     International Labour Organization

Financial Support

Financial support could include any donations, philanthropy, or pro-bono support for a project or work related to gender equality.

G

Gender Norms

Gender norms are ideas about how men and women should be and act. We internalize and learn these “rules” early in life. This sets up a life-cycle of gender socialization and stereotyping. Put another way, gender norms are the standards and expectations to which gender identity generally conforms, within a range that defines a particular society, culture, and community at that point in time.

Source:
     UN Women

Gendered Impacts of Product Development, Distribution, and Access

Depending on the industry or country context, customers may face differential gender barriers in accessing a company’s products and services. These barriers not only affect the individual woman, but can have impacts on the company’s profitability in relation to specific market segments (female consumers). For instance, in the financial services industry, mobility constraints may prevent women from physically accessing a bank branch and thus limiting access to financial products and services. As such, financial service providers may have to find alternative collateral requirements to bank, or distribution channels to reach their women customers. A company may choose to evaluate gender differences in access to its products and services and make changes to its products, distribution channels, or other aspects of its business model to tap into the women’s customer market. In doing so it can meet the differential needs of women for its products and services, as well as boost its revenues and market share in the face of the growing consumer power of women.

Source:
     UN Women's Private Sector Accountability Framework

Gender Equality Strategy

To operationalize the commitment to gender equality, a company should embed gender equality and women’s empowerment in its business strategy. Identifying potential gender related risks (e.g. a lack of board diversity, or legal and reputation risk from gender discriminatory hiring practices) and opportunities (e.g. greater corporate governance and innovation due to a gender diverse board) can support a company in its enterprise risk management and on delivering on its overall business objectives. Setting objectives, goals, or targets related to these gender related risks and opportunities (e.g. to increase gender diversity on the board by 25%) can enable a company to monitor and track whether the risks have been minimized and the opportunities capitalized upon.

Source:
     UN Women's Private Sector Accountability Framework

Gender Neutral Language

Gender neutral language aims to eliminate (or neutralize) reference to gender in terms that describe people. For example, the words chairman, fireman, and stewardess are gender‐specific; the corresponding gender‐neutral terms are chairperson (or chair), fire‐fighter, and flight attendant.

Source:
     UNESCO

Gender Stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are simplistic generalizations about the gender attributes and roles of individuals and/or groups and the differences among them. Stereotypes can be positive or negative, but they rarely communicate accurate information about others.

Source:
     UNESCO

H

Highest Body of Governance

Formalized group of persons charged with ultimate authority in an organization.

Source:
     Global Reporting Initiative

Holistic Approach

A holistic approach means that companies look at the full scope of economic, social, cultural, and political factors that affect women’s access to information, opportunities, and agency.

Source:
     BSR

Health, Safety, and Hygiene

Given biological differences between men and women, companies should asses the differential health and safety impacts and implications for men and women employees. For instance, employees in certain positions may be exposed to toxic chemicals. These employees may vary in their physiological susceptibility to the effects of exposure to these chemicals based on their reproductive status such as during pregnancy and lactation. Consequently, women may need to be temporarily relocated to another position in the company during their pregnancy or while they are still breastfeeding to avoid passing on the toxins to their children both prenatally and through breastfeeding. Managing gender differences in exposure from hazardous chemicals can help companies to reduce occupational health risks including related legal and reputational risks, as well as support employees realize their reproductive health rights.

Source:
     UN Women's Private Sector Accountability Framework

I

International Labour Organization Equal Remuneration Convention 1951

Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951. The primary ILO instrument that targets equal pay for work of equal value for women and men.

Source:
     International Labour Organization

Integrating gender equality into corporate sustainability

An integrated approach requires embedding gender considerations throughout company functions, processes, policies, values, and relationships across the company value and supply chains. It also means that opportunities for women’s empowerment are not housed in isolated silos of different departments. Rather, they are considered in different decisions along the value and supply chains, prioritized by company leadership, and reiterated in company values and mission statements.

Source:
     BSR

International Labour Organization Maternity Protection Convention

Maternity Protection Convention, 2000. Promotes the adoption of national legislation that protects the health and safety of the mother and child, and supports the rights of women in the workplace. Article 4 stipulates that women to whom the Convention applies are entitled to a period of maternity leave of not less than 14 weeks.

Source:
     International Labour Organization

J

Job Sharing

Alternative work schedule in which two or more employees share the duties of one full-time job, each working part-time, or two or more workers who have unrelated part-time assignments share the same budget line.

Source:
     United States Department of Labour

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N

Non-discrimination and equal opportunity

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. Companies have a minimum obligation to respect human rights, which includes non-discrimination. Equal Opportunity is the principle of ensuring non-discrimination in all aspects of employment. Discrimination against women shall mean "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field." In the context of this disclosure, an ‘incident’ refers to a legal action or complaint registered with the reporting organization or competent authorities through a formal process, or an instance of non-compliance identified by the organization through established procedures. Established procedures to identify instances of noncompliance can include management system audits, formal monitoring programs, or grievance mechanisms. An incident is no longer subject to action if it is resolved, the case is completed, or no further action is required by the organization.

Sources:
     Global Reporting Initiative
     UN Women(based on UN General Assembly 1979, article 1)

O

Operational Level Grievance Mechanisms

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights call on companies to provide access to remedy to victims of human rights violations. A grievance mechanism is any judicial or non-judicial process through which grievances concerning business-related human rights abuse or instances of discrimination, harassment and violence in the workplace can be raised and remedy can be sought. It is important that grievance mechanisms exist at an operational level to ensure external parties have a direct channel to raise concerns and enable adverse impacts to be remediated easily to prevent grievances from compounding and escalating. For an operational level grievance mechanism, engaging with affected stakeholder groups about its design and performance can help to ensure that it meets their needs, that they will use it in practice, and that there is a shared interest in ensuring its success. Concerns about the independence, confidentiality or conflict of interest of grievance mechanisms can be alleviated if they are operated by an independent third party. Effectiveness criteria for non-judicial grievance mechanisms can be found in Principle 31 of The Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. In order to understand if there are issues of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, it is crucial to disaggregate grievance data by sex.

Sources:
     Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
     UN Women's Private Sector Accountability Framework

Overall ratio, ratio by employee category of basic salary, and remuneration of women to men

When calculating pay ratios it is important to look at the overall ratio as well as the ratio by employee category. The overall ratio compares the pay average for all employees across the organization, disaggregated by sex. The overall ratio does not take into consideration employee level or contract type. Ratio by employee level compares average pay, by sex, within each employee level and contract type (i.e. comparing entry level women to entry level men). When calculating the average, employers should use both the mean and median. The median compares typical values and is less affected by extreme values. The median gives a better indication of typical pay and inequalities experienced by the majority of women. The mean gives a sense of the vast differences across pay distribution. In environments where high earners are predominantly male, the mean gives a clearer understanding of gender disparities in income.

Sources:
     Business in the Community
     GRI
     learn how to calculate pay ratio

P

Proactive Steps

Action and result oriented behavior, instead of waiting for things to happen and then trying to adjust (react) to them. Proactive behavior aims at identification and exploitation of opportunities and in taking preemptory action against potential problems and threats. In the context of employment, for example, proactive steps would involve a company going beyond traditional recruiting practices to encourage women to apply, or improving career pathways to senior roles. Proactive steps in relation to procurement, on the other hand, include a company engaging with suppliers who have a diverse workforce composition, sourcing from women-owned businesses, or taking any other measures that would diversify their value and supply chains.

Sources:
     BSR
     Business Dictionary
     WEPs

Professional Networks

Professional networks refer to professional relationships or opportunities that may boost one's future business and employment prospects. The company can support internal employee networks (i.e. women's networks, networks based on ethnicity or race etc…) in which members can discuss specific challenges to professional development, opportunities that foster an inclusive workplace environment, and skills needed to advance. Ensuring networks are available to women is essential to recruiting, retention, and advancement.

Source:
     Drawn from the definition of networks onInvestopedia

Public Statement

A public statement or commitment can include a letter to stakeholders, signing the CEO Statement of Support, a written blog or editorial piece. The public statement can set the tone, vision, culture, and values of a company.

Source:
     UN Women's Private Sector Accountability Framework

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave is defined as a leave period–paid or unpaid–reserved for fathers in relation to childbirth or leave that can be used exclusively by fathers as paternity leave. Companies can support fathers to take paternity leave by providing incentives such as: financial compensation during leave, use it or lose it schemes, or allowing for flexibility of when the time can be used.

Source:
     International Labour Organization

Part Time Work

A part time worker is an employed person whose normal hours of work are less than those of comparable full time workers. Full time work is typically defined by the number of hours worked and varies from country to country.

Source:
     International Labour Organization (Part-Time Work Convention, 1994)

Permanent Worker—Temporary Worker

The definition of permanent worker varies from country to country, but typically includes those employed in a position without a pre-determined time limit. Temporary work, whereby workers are engaged for a specific period of time, includes fixed-term, project or task-based contracts, as well as seasonal or casual work, including day labour.

Sources:
     Business Dictionary
     ILO

Professional Development

Refers to specialized training, formal education or advanced professional training provided to employees and funded by the company.

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R

Responsible Marketing

Companies should ensure communications and marketing do not have an adverse impact on the rights of women and girls. This includes not further reinforcing gender discrimination or portraying negative images of women or girls, and taking into consideration the societal impacts of using unrealistic or sexualized body images.

Source:
     UN Global Compact

Respect vs. Support of Human Rights

Business Enterprises have the responsibility to respect human rights. This means that companies should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved. These rights are defined in international standards and conventions. All companies have a minimum obligation to respect human rights. Support refers to other commitments or activities that business enterprises may undertake to support and promote human rights, which may contribute to the enjoyment of rights. But this does not (and should not) offset a failure to respect human rights throughout their operations.

Source:
     Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Return to Work/Retention Rates

The return to work rate is defined as the total number of employees that returned to work after parental leave. The retention rate is defined as the total number of employees retained 12 months after returning to work following a period of parental leave. It is important for companies to calculate the return to work/retention rate after parental leave to ensure that they are complying with legislation that allows employees to take maternity/paternity leave and return to work in the same or a comparable position. To learn how to calculate the return to work/retention rate after maternity/paternity leave refer to Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards 401-3 .

Sources:
     Global Reporting Initiative
     GRI 401

S

Supply Chain

Supply Chain refers to cross-border organization of the activities required to produce goods or services and bring them to consumers through inputs and various phases of development, production, and delivery

Source:
     ILO

Sex-Disaggregated Data

Sex-disaggregated data is data that is cross-classified by sex, presenting information separately for men and women, boys and girls. Sex-disaggregated data reflect roles, real situations, general conditions of women and men, girls and boys in every aspect of society. When data is not disaggregated by sex, it is more difficult to identify real and potential inequalities. Sex-disaggregated data is necessary for effective gender analysis. They are context/ time-specific and changeable. The term “gender” has often been wrongly used in association with data. When data on demographic, social or economic characteristics are collected in the field, it is the sex of a person that is recorded as female (woman) or male (female), not the gender. Sex-disaggregated data, however, when analyzed, have the capacity to reveal differences in women’s and men’s lives that are the result of gender roles and expectations.

Source:
     UN Women

Specific Support for Women

Companies may have professional development programmes to help all employees further develop their professional and technical skills. However in order to ensure women have equal professional development opportunities it is important to explicitly address the professional development paths for women (needs and challenges of women can differ to those of men).

Source:
     WEPs

Stakeholders

A person, group, or organization that has interest or concern in an organization. Stakeholders can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives, and policies. Stakeholders can include: investors, consumers, civil society, governments, and local communities. When engaging stakeholders it is important to engage both male and female members of the affected/involved party.

Sources:
     Business Dictionary
     UN Global Compact

Superannuation

Superannuation refers to regular payments into a retirement fund. Research shows there is a superannuation gender gap because of the gender pay gap and the tendency for women, as primary care takers, to have more fragmented work patterns (maternity leave, childcare, dependent care etc.).

Sources:
     OECD
     Parliament of Australia

Sex vs. Gender

Sex: The physical and biological characteristics that distinguish males and females. Gender: Gender refers to the roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society at a given time considers appropriate for men and women.

Sources:
     UN Stats
     UN Women

T

Talent Pipeline

Pipeline refers to an organization’s ongoing need to have a pool of talent (in this case a pool of qualified women) that is readily available to fill positions at all levels of management (as well as other key positions) as the company grows. At each level, different competencies, knowledge, and experiences are required, and (to keep the pipeline filled) the organization must have programs designed to develop appropriate skills sets. In order to achieve gender balance at the senior management level, it is crucial for companies to invest, train, and provide equal opportunities for women throughout the organization so that they can assume those leadership roles.

Source:
     Bersin by Deloitte

The Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights

The Guiding Principles seek to provide an authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse human rights impacts linked to business activity. They stress the importance of integrating a gender perspective into human rights risk management.

Source:
     Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Telecommuting

Work carried out in a location where, remote from central offices or production facilities, the worker has no personal contact with co-workers, but is able to communicate with them using technology.

Source:
     Vittorio Di Martino, (article in theInternational Labour Reviewjournal, 1990)

Tracking employees that take advantage of parental or care benefits

Tracking and reporting data, disaggregated by sex, can help a company identify: who is using the benefits, if programmes and benefits are successful in retaining women and men employees who are primary caregivers, and areas for improvement in addressing caregiver needs.

Tracking employees that take advantage of work/life benefits

Tracking and reporting data, disaggregated by sex, can help a company identify: who is using the benefits, if programmes and benefits are successful in retaining women and men (particularly employees that value a balanced work life), and areas for improvement.

U

Underrepresented Roles

Roles or occupations that are typically dominated by one gender. Underrepresented roles or non-traditional occupations refer to “occupations for which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25% of the individuals employed in each such occupation."

Source:
     ITUC

V

Violence Against Women

Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. Acts of violence can include: (a) Physical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation, and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence, and violence related to exploitation; (b) Physical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women, and forced prostitution

Source:
     UN Women

Vendors

While all companies may not source goods or services as inputs to an end product, all companies, whether big or small, buy products and services for their business to function (i.e. office supplies, cleaning services etc.). When buying these goods and services companies are encouraged to seek out both women and men suppliers.

Value Chain

A business enterprise’s value chain encompasses the activities that convey input into output by adding value. It includes entities with which it has a direct or indirect business relationship and which either (a) supply products or services that contribute to the enterprise’s own products or services, or (b) receive products or services from the enterprise.

Source:
     The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

W

Women-Owned Business

While definitions can vary from country to country, UN Women defines Women-Owned Business as a business that is 51% or more owned, operated, and controlled by one or more women. WEConnect International, a global organization that certifies women-owned businesses, uses the following criteria to further define “control:” 51% ownership by one or more women; day to day and long term control and management of the business by one or more women; contribution of capital and/or expertise by women; and operated independently from other non-certified businesses. It is critical that there is an emphasis on ownership and control by women to avoid tokenism and illicit practices such as fronting. Inclusive sourcing can have positive bottom line impacts by: broadening the vendor pool, creating vendor competition and thereby lowering costs; increasing innovation and diverse thought, leading to competitive advantage; and strengthening customer loyalty and brand recognition.

Sources:
     WEConnect International
     WEPs

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