Special Briefing on the Gender Equality Project
By Louisa Clark*
Is there a global standard for gender equality that holds companies accountable for giving men and women equal opportunities in the workplace?
This is the question that Nicole Schwab and Aniela Unguresan asked when they founded the Gender Equality Project. Nicole Schwab was in New York on September 23rd to give a special briefing on the Project to friends of the National Council for Research on Women. Nicole also previewed some of the metrics they were developing in partnership with Accenture at an event hosted by the Littler Mendlesohn law firm.
During its pilot phase, the Gender Equality Project recruited 7 industries across 5 countries to take part in an evaluation of how well they were moving towards gender equity. These companies looked at areas such as equal pay for equivalent work, recruitment and promotion, training and mentoring, flexible work arrangements, and company culture. Results from company-provided statistics and employee surveys showed a mix of progress in transitioning and promoting women from junior to top management.
What will it take to make companies adopt and apply more gender equitable policies?
The Gender Equality Project aims to develop a global certification system for gender equity in the work place that would encourage companies to provide equal opportunities for both men and women. Project participants will gather at yearly workshop sessions to set benchmarks and compare best practices. The Project will also benefit from association with the World Economic Forum in Davos with which it collaborates and plays an advisory role.
However, at this early stage, many companies are interested only in the internal assessment phase of the Project. Nellie Borrero, Managing Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Accenture, explained how companies are using the methodology as a guide on how to improve gender diversity. Certification will require a third party to evaluate the company, but many companies were still reluctant to opt for certification and preferred to focus on their internal assessments first.
*Louisa Clark is a Communications Intern at the National Council for Research on Women. She is a Junior at Barnard College, Columbia University studying American studies.