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Gendered Environmental Recommendations

After completing the environmental component of the GEM self-assessment, MEDA presents the following recommendations on how to mainstream gender equality in company environmental practices and policies.

The environmental component is one of three surveys that comprise the Gender Equality Mainstreaming (GEM) self-assessment. The GEM self-assessment evaluates different components (environmental, social, and governance) of a company’s performance in gender equality mainstreaming and offers recommendations for improvement.

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Using the score you received at the end of the GEM environmental component survey, select the appropriate category below:

Gender Explorer (0 – 3 Points)

Gender Aware (4 – 9 Points)

Gender Strategic (10 – 13 Points)

Gender Explorer

Your company is a Gender Explorer for the environmental component of the self-assessment!

Your company may or may not have environmental policies established. If policies are in place, minimal action has been taken to ensure women stakeholders are involved and benefiting from these policies. Overall, your company has not spent time considering the different needs of women and men stakeholders within the company’s broader environment.

Climate change is a material risk to business performance. It will reduce the value of the world’s financial assets by an estimated USD 2.5 trillion (Dietz et al, 2016). In many parts of the world, women are often more likely than men to be negatively affected by the impacts of climate change, such as with natural disasters (UN Women, 2017). Analyzing your company’s environmental impact and its effects on women can help businesses better manage risk. For instance, businesses are at risk of negative media attention if their operations damage the quality of the local water supply where women are the primary users of water for their families.

Businesses like Equator Kenya are seizing business opportunities that improve women’s role in the environment. Equator Kenya, an exporter of premium chilies, has trained 1,530 women smallholder farmers in their supply chain in environmentally sensitive agriculture techniques in topics like safe use of pesticides. For companies like Equator, investing in women and climate makes business sense. Studies have shown that women farmers in Kenya are more likely than men to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices (Twyman et al, 2014). Climate-smart practices aim to increase agricultural productivity and farmer income, and reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions (FAO, 2018).  Sourcing from women farmers who apply environmentally sensitive practices ensures Equator has reliable and high quality supply of raw chilies. Not only is Equator better able to meet customer demand, Equator is also supporting women farmers to increase their income, while reducing negative impacts on the environment. Next year Equator Kenya plans to promote conservation agriculture techniques to women farmers, as well as increase women farmers’ access to safe and green inputs and technologies.

To help you get started, we have included tips and resources that can upgrade your company’s environmental policies and practices while improving gender equality:

    • When developing an environmental policy or environmental management system, companies should ensure that women staff at various levels of the organization are contributing to policy development. Here is an environmental policy and strategy template. When companies develop these policies, it is important to take into consideration women and men’s specific needs. For example, if a company operates in the manufacturing sector, it ensured that nearby water sources, primarily used by women collecting water, are protected from waste generated from company operations.
    • Consulting with male and female members of the local community can help a company understand how its operations impact the local environment. Good community consultation will inform the company’s policies and practices, ensuring that the needs of women and men community members are met.
    • Conducting an environmental audit or assessment can provide invaluable information for a company. Depending on the type of audit undertaken, companies can test whether they are in compliance with local regulations, identify opportunities to save costs through more energy efficient equipment, and also consider issues relevant to women. Examples include ISO 14001, environmental site assessments, environmental compliance audits and energy audits – all can be completed with a gender lens. When undertaking an audit, it is important for women staff and community members to participate.
    • Starting to measure your company’s environmental impact, particularly as it affects men and women. The IRIS Metrics Catalog and SASB Materiality Map are excellent investor-endorsed resources that can be adapted for gender inclusion.

Gender Aware

Your company is Gender Aware for the environmental component of the self-assessment!

Your company understands that the environment is an important contributor to your company’s operations and it is likely that you have established environmental policies and practices. Despite solid environmental systems, you may not have fully considered the different needs of women and men stakeholders within the company’s broader environment. 

Climate change is a material risk to business performance. It will reduce the value of the world’s financial assets by an estimated USD 2.5 trillion (Dietz et al, 2016). In many parts of the world, women are often more likely than men to be negatively affected by the impacts of climate change, such as with natural disasters (UN Women, 2017). Analyzing your company’s environmental impact and its effects on women can help businesses better manage risk. For instance, businesses are at risk of negative media attention if their operations damage the quality of the local water supply where women are the primary users of water for their families.

We commend you on your progress towards incorporating gender issues within your company’s environmental impact. To support you in your journey towards gender equality, we have included the following tips and resources:

  • When developing an environmental policy or environmental management system, companies should ensure that women staff at various levels of the organization are contributing to policy development. Here is an environmental policy and strategy template. When companies develop these policies, it is important to take into consideration women and men’s specific needs. For example, if a company operates in the real estate and construction sectors, it has an established process for engaging women community members, as well as men, in land-use decisions. Women are frequently excluded from land-use decisions in locations where they have limited land rights. Similarly, when your company conducts environmental audits or assessments, women employees and community members should participate in the audit.
  • Regularly measure your company’s environmental impact, particularly as it affects men and women. The IRIS Metrics Catalog and SASB Materiality Map are excellent investor-endorsed resources that can be adapted for gender inclusion. If you are already measuring your environmental impacts, your company might consider setting targets that integrate gender indicators and reporting them to internal and external stakeholders to remain accountable.
  • Consulting with male and female members of the local community can help a company understand how its operations impact the local environment. Good community consultation will inform the company’s policies and practices, ensuring that the needs of women and men community members are met. Consultation can also uncover new business opportunities. For instance, Equator Kenya, an exporter of premium chilies, has trained 1,530 women smallholder farmers in their supply chain in environmentally sensitive agriculture techniques in topics like safe use of pesticides. For companies like Equator, investing in women and climate makes business sense. Studies have shown that women farmers in Kenya are more likely than men to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices (Twyman et al, 2014). Climate-smart practices aim to increase agricultural productivity and farmer income, and reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions (FAO, 2017). Sourcing from women farmers who apply environmentally sensitive practices ensures Equator has reliable and high quality supply of raw chilies. Not only is Equator better able to meet customer demand, Equator is also supporting women farmers to increase their income, while reducing negative impacts on the environment. Next year Equator Kenya plans to promote conservation agriculture techniques to women farmers, as well as increase women farmers’ access to safe and green inputs and technologies.
  • Track business trends in women and climate. Resources shared by leading organizations like WEDO and Global Gender Climate Alliance can help you stay informed of the latest research and strategies, and identify new ways that your company can lead. This 2016 report on gender and climate provides a comprehensive overview of the existing literature, while New Course offers more practical examples. In the wake of the COP 21 Paris agreement, monitoring policy developments can help firms stay ahead of regulatory change. The Gender Climate Tracker app is a policy resource that includes useful country-specific profiles.

Gender Strategic

Congratulations! Your company is Gender Strategic for the environmental component of the self-assessment.

Your company has a clear understanding of the importance of gender equality within the broader environment. Your company has robust environmental policies and practices, likely similar to MEDA’s environmental policy and strategy template.. It is likely that women staff contributed significantly to the development of environmental policies, and that both female and male community stakeholders were consulted. Women and men employees are aware of your company’s impact on the environment and feel that their needs have been taken into consideration. For example, if a company operates in the real estate and construction sectors, it has an established process for engaging women community members, as well as men, in land-use decisions. Women are frequently excluded from land-use decisions in locations where they have limited land rights.

We commend you on your leadership in incorporating gender issues within your company’s environmental impact. To support you in continually improving your strong company practices, we have included the following tips and resources:

  • Measure, set targets and report environmental impacts of company operations on the local environment and disaggregate results by women and men community members where possible. The IRIS Metrics Catalog and SASB Materiality Map are excellent investor-endorsed resources that can be adapted for gender inclusion.
  • Publicly disclose the environmental impacts within a company’s Annual Report. For example, Vancity Credit Union, a Canadian financial institution, publishes an Annual Report with a specific section dedicated to environmental sustainability and a specific Green House Gas Inventory Report and Handbook. With your level of gender expertise, you will be able to ensure your incorporation of these resources are also gender strategic!
  • Based on consultations with male and female suppliers and community members, your company may consider implementing new environmental strategies that benefit women. For instance, Equator Kenya, an exporter of premium chilies, has trained 1,530 women smallholder farmers in their supply chain in environmentally sensitive agriculture techniques in topics like safe use of pesticides. For companies like Equator, investing in women and climate makes business sense. Studies have shown that women farmers in Kenya are more likely than men to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices (Twyman et al, 2014). Climate-smart practices aim to increase agricultural productivity and farmer income, and reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions (FAO, 2017). Sourcing from women farmers who apply environmentally sensitive practices ensures Equator has reliable and high quality supply of raw chilies. Not only is Equator better able to meet customer demand, Equator is also supporting women farmers to increase their income, while reducing negative impacts on the environment. Next year Equator Kenya plans to promote conservation agriculture techniques to women farmers, as well as increase women farmers’ access to safe and green inputs and technologies.
  • Continue to follow business trends in women and climate. Resources shared by leading organizations like WEDO and Global Gender Climate Alliance offer some of the latest research and strategies. This 2016 report on gender and climate provides a comprehensive overview of the existing literature, while New Course offers more practical examples. The Gender Climate Tracker app is a policy resource that includes useful country-specific profiles. Tell us what your favourite gender climate and business resources are!

References Cited

Climate-Smart Agriculture. (2018). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://www.fao.org/climate-smart-agriculture/en/

Company: Equator Kenya Limited (Rep.). (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from MEDA website: https://www.meda.org/publications-m-sawa/399-equator-lead-firm-profile-1/file

Diez, S., Brown, A., Dixon, C., & Gradwell, P. (2016). 'Climate value at risk' of global financial assets. Nature Climate Change. Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Dietz-et-al-201612-copy.pdf

Gender and Climate Change: A Closer Look at Existing Evidence (Rep.). (2016, November). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from Global Gender and Climate Alliance website: http://wedo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/GGCA-RP-FINAL.pdf

Gender Climate Tracker App. (2017, March 07). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://wedo.org/tool-gender-climate-tracker-app/

Global Gender and Climate Alliance. (2018). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://gender-climate.org/

Greenhouse Gas Handbook and Inventory Report (Rep.). (2016). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from Vancity website: https://www.vancity.com/SharedContent/documents/AnnualReportArchives/2016_GHG_Handbook_and_Inventory_Report.pdf

IRIS. (2018). IRIS Metrics. Retrieved January 25, 2018, from https://iris.thegiin.org/metrics

New Course. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from http://anewcourse.org/our-programs/

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. (2017). SASB Materiality Map. Retrieved January 25, 2018, from https://materiality.sasb.org/?hsCtaTracking=28ae6e2d-2004-4a52-887f-819b72e9f70a%7C160e7227-a2ed-4f28-af33-dff50a769cf4

Twyman, J., Green, M., Bernier, Q., Kristjanson, P., Russo, S., All, A., . . . Ndourba, Y. (2014). Adaption Actions in Africa: Evidence that Gender Matters (Working paper No. 83). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) website: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/rest/bitstreams/35869/retrieve

Vancity in 2016: Building on Values (Rep.). (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from Vancity website: http://annualreport.vancity.com/pdf/2016_Annual_Report.pdf#page=27

Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change (Rep.). (2009). Retrieved January 25, 2018, from UN Women Watch website: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/feature/climate_change/downloads/Women_and_Climate_Change_Factsheet.pdf