When women serve as leaders and employees, businesses benefit and company performance improves. USAID’s Engendering Industries program increases gender equality in male-dominated industries around the world.
Launched in 2015, USAID’s Engendering Industries program supports organizations in developing countries to increase economic opportunities for women and improve gender equality in the workplace. First starting in the energy sector, and then expanding to water, Engendering Industries now works to advance gender equality in male-dominated sectors throughout the world. Expanding women’s participation in male-dominated sectors leads to tangible economic empowerment outcomes for women, such as formal employment opportunities and higher income. Increased gender equality also improves an organization’s business performance, helping companies meet their bottom-line by enhancing employee satisfaction, reducing turnover, and driving productivity. Well-functioning organizations are also vital in supporting stronger and more resilient economies.
Strong Companies and Organizations Bolster Economies and Power Development
Resilient, reliable and commercially viable companies and organizations fuel economic growth, bolster economies, catalyze social development, create an enabling environment for private investment, and reduce burdensome government subsidies that inhibit critical public investment.
Women Represent Half of the World’s Employment Potential
Women are underrepresented in the global workforce at all levels, and are often excluded from formal employment opportunities. This is not simply an issue of fairness, it’s a missed economic opportunity. Working with partner organizations to better understand gender gaps and design interventions in outreach and recruitment; mentorship and leadership; and professional development, can help overcome these barriers.
Leveraging Female Talent Unlocks Innovation and Productivity
When women serve as leaders and employees of companies—including those in traditionally male-dominated industries—businesses benefit and performance improves. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that companies with greater gender diversity outperform their peers and benefit from higher employee satisfaction rates. An Ernst and Young study found that the top 20 most gender diverse power utilities significantly outperformed the bottom 20, in terms of return on equity.
Women also bring different perspectives to the difficult issues facing today’s corporations. Diversity of thought can result in better decision making and lead to more creative and innovative solutions. A UC Berkeley study found that companies with more women on their board of directors are more likely to be proactive in improving energy efficiency, lowering company costs, and to invest in renewable power generation.
A Phased Approach
At the core of Engendering Industries’ approach is the effective implementation of evidence-based gender equality best practices. Based on its own groundbreaking research across 14 energy utilities, USAID’s Engendering Industries program began working with an initial cohort of utilities in 2016 to improve gender equality and enhance business performance. For nearly two years, USAID partnered with seven utilities from five countries to implement tailored interventions to improve gender outcomes.
Through a customized best practices framework, demand-driven expert coaching, and a Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program, in partnership with Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Engendering Industries builds the capacity of leaders to identify critical gender equality gaps and implement interventions that directly increase opportunities for women within the company and strengthen the overall operations of the organization.
Today, USAID continues to expand this approach, currently working with 41 partner organizations from 27 countries, with plans to partner with additional organizations in the future.