Making Equality a Corporate Priority
Release by UNIFEM Headquarters
New York – June 21, 2010 – The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Global Compact today announce the 39 lead signers of the CEO Statement of Support [view PDF in new window] for the Women’s Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business, which were launched at the UN on 8 March 2010. Chief executives expressing their commitment to advancing equality between men and women, the cornerstone of the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles, come from all regions of the world and represent diverse global and national companies. Among them are: Symantec, US; Eskom Holdings Limited, South Africa; Infosys Technologies Limited, India; Total, France; Levi Strauss & Co., US; The Westpac Group, Australia; Sunjgoo Group/MCM, South Korea; Copel-Companhia Paranaense de Energia, Brazil; and Olympic Group, Egypt. CEOs from consulting and investment companies, including Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst and Young, Calvert Group, Ltd. and Pax World Management LLC added their support underlining the business case that investment in women results in more sustainable and profitable companies.
UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi said: “These initial signers of the CEO Statement are practicing the very first Women’s Empowerment Principle that leadership promotes gender equality. These executives are affirming the high-level support necessary for the Women’s Empowerment Principles to gain traction in individual companies and their cultures.”
The CEO Statement of Support encourages business leaders to use the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles as guide posts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, and communicate progress through the use of sex-disaggregated data and other benchmarks. Signers underscore that equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do — it is also good for business and needs to be a priority. The Principles offer a practical approach to advance women and point the way to a business and social environment that is both fairer and more prosperous for everyone.
President and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. John Anderson said: “As one of the first companies to sign onto the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, we remain dedicated to the advancement of women globally. Women comprise a significant portion of apparel sector workers. By investing in access to proper health care, a safe, non-discriminatory work environment and opportunities for asset building targeted to women, we’re not only investing in our workers, we’re investing in a healthy and sustainable workplace for all.”
More than ten CEOs sent statements supporting their commitment to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, in addition to adding their signature to the CEO Letter of Support.
A partnership initiative of UNIFEM and the UN Global Compact, the Women’s Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business, offers the business community a new tool to work with the United Nations to advance the Millennium Development Goals, particularly Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. A high-level private sector forum will be held in New York to coincide with the UN’s 2010 September Summit on the Millennium Development Goals.
Today’s leading signatories urge other leaders across the global business community to join them, a call that will be broadly made at the upcoming UN Global Compact Leaders Summit on 24–25 June, when more than 1,000 CEOs, ministers, heads of civil society and the UN will convene in New York to discuss how to build a new era of sustainability — an era where environmental, social and governance issues are deeply integrated into business based on both material and ethical rationales.
Women continue to be vastly under-represented in top positions and on boards — their numbers have been increasing only very slowly over the last decade. To move the dial, Women’s Empowerment Principle 1 urges company leaders to make gender equality a top priority.
About the United Nations Development Fund for Women
UNIFEM is the women’s fund at the United Nations. It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality. Placing the advancement of women’s human rights at the centre of all its efforts, UNIFEM focuses on reducing feminised poverty, ending violence against women, reversing the spread of HIV and AIDS among women and girls, and achieving gender equality in democratic governance in times of peace as well as war.
About the United Nations Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies around the world to align their strategies and operations with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of broader UN goals. Through the development, implementation, and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices, business can help ensure that markets advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere. The Global Compact is not a regulatory body, but a voluntary leadership platform for dialogue and learning. With more than 8,200 signatories in more than 135 countries, it is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative.
The Women’s Empowerment Principles, the product of a collaboration between UNIFEM and the UN Global Compact informed by an international multi-stakeholder consultation, are adapted from the Calvert Women’s Principles®. The Calvert Women’s Principles were originally developed in partnership with UNIFEM and launched in 2004 as the first global corporate code of conduct focused exclusively on empowering, advancing and investing in women worldwide.