Women are key drivers of economic growth, engaging in business as consumers, employees, leaders, suppliers and community stakeholders. Yet, women are frequently overlooked and underrepresented in the private sector throughout the world. 2017 marked the first year that the Global Gender Gap – an index measuring 144 countries’ gender disparity in health, education, politics and the workplace – worsened since its inception in 2006 (WEF). Recent events like the #MeToo campaign signal a sea of change for the world, including the corporate sphere. This is good news, since $28 trillion could be added to annual global GDP by 2025 if women participated in the economy at the same level as men (McKinsey, 2015). Businesses and investors who seek to understand and respond to the barriers women face will be rewarded – both in terms of growth and impact.
For many organizations however, pursuing business strategies that empower women can seem daunting. Often the most difficult part is to begin. In response to this challenge, MEDA is pleased to launch the Gender Equality Mainstreaming (GEM) Framework, a practical manual and toolkit for transforming companies to be more gender equitable while supporting business growth and impact.
Numerous industry leaders have announced their support for the toolkit. From gender lens investing pioneers like Jackie VanderBrug to private equity funds including Women’s World Banking, Small Enterprise Assistance Funds (SEAF) and Sarona Asset Management to government agencies like USAID, the framework is rapidly gaining traction with investors and capacity building organizations.
Joy Anderson, Founder and President of Criterion Institute, offers her endorsement of the toolkit:
“MEDA’s GEM Framework provides investors, donors, intermediaries and other stakeholders with an open source toolkit for assessing gender performance of companies, as well as guidance on how to improve gender outcomes within business policies and practices. It builds on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) standard to enable analysis and upgrading across ESG criteria – elevating gender to a cross-cutting theme."
"Too often gender is represented by a tick box buried in the appendix, this resource brings gender to the front end of analyzing business operations, both the opportunities and the risks… The GEM Framework provides an explicit approach for an investor to incorporate a gender lens into their financial decision-making.”
The manual is applicable to a wide range of investors and capacity builders and can be applied throughout the investment life cycle, from investment readiness and due diligence through to value creation and impact monitoring. Companies seeking a quick and simple way to assess their gender performance can complete an online GEM self-assessment in less than an hour. The self-assessment generates a score and tailored recommendations on areas to improve gender equality within each ESG component.
We hope the framework will be a useful resource for you and your colleagues around the world, and will enable companies to contribute to sustainable and equitable growth for all. We would love to hear from you on how you are applying the framework and we welcome opportunities to collaborate in the future to advance gender equality.
The GEM Framework: https://www.meda.org/gem
The streamlined online GEM self-assessment: https://www.meda.org/self-assessment