Delivering Gender Equality

A Best Practices Framework for Male-Dominated Industries

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This framework provides the practical resources organizations need to increase gender equality across their operations and corporate structure.

Women and girls represent half of the world’s employment potential. Nonetheless, gender inequality persists globally and hinders social progress. Effectively developing this talent is a key part of ensuring organizational competitiveness in the future. Capturing the gains in diversity of thought and innovation from women’s increased participation in the global workforce will be critical to solving the climate crisis. In addition, a growing body of evidence demonstrates a correlation between diversity at the executive level and a company’s performance. A study by McKinsey & Company analyzed more than 1,000 companies in 12 countries and concluded that gender-diverse companies are more likely to outperform their national industry average in terms of profitability.

Despite the evidence demonstrating women’s value in the workforce, women continue to encounter structural barriers to participate in the world economy, particularly in industries traditionally dominated by men. Globally, the labor force participation rate for women is 25 percent lower than the rate for men. On average, women work fewer hours for pay or profit either because they opt to work part-time or because part-time work is the only option available to them. In some countries, gender gaps in hourly wage rates for similar work can reach 20 percent. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), with current trends, the overall global gender gap will take 135.6 years to close.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is committed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and strengthening all workplaces, especially in male-dominated industries where significant equality gaps are observed, to fuel economic growth and social development. Through its Engendering Industries program, USAID identified the employee life cycle as a key entry point to effecting long-lasting and impactful change within partner organizations within male-dominated industries. From attraction and talent outreach to separation and retirement, there are numerous opportunities to promote gender equality within any workplace.

The framework is divided into 12 categories, eight of which are part of the employee life cycle:

  1. Attraction and Talent Outreach
  2. Recruiting and Hiring
  3. Onboarding and Training
  4. Performance Management, Compensation, and Benefits
  5. Talent and Leadership Development
  6. Retention and Employee Engagement
  7. Succession Planning and Promotion
  8. Separation and Retirement

The last four categories represent organization enablers for gender equality:

  1. Policies and Grievance Management
  2. Company Performance and Reporting
  3. Corporate Communications and Branding
  4. Corporate Culture and Leadership.

Within each phase, multiple best practices are outlined that are derived from an extensive literature review of global resources and complemented by lessons learned from USAID’s Engendering Industries program. A description is provided for each best practice, as well as potential implementation challenges; examples of successful implementation; and tools, resources, and templates that provide additional information.

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