Developing a Business Case for Gender Equality

Speeches Shim

A business case is critical for achieving buy-in and strategic action from all staff, serving as the “guiding light” so stakeholders know how actions contribute to business outcomes.

When women serve as leaders and employees of companies in traditionally male-dominated industries, research shows that businesses benefit and company performance improves. Several recent studies demonstrate that gender diversity is correlated with improved business performance. A McKinsey & Company study of 1,000 companies across 12 countries concluded that gender-diverse companies are more profitable than their national industry averages. A Catalyst study found that firms that have more women in management positions enjoy 35 percent more return on equity (ROE) than firms that lack gender diversity.

Despite these clear benefits, it can be difficult to convince managers and staff to hire more women, and women’s participation in the global workforce remains low. Developing a business case for addressing gender equality is a critical first step in developing a gender diversity strategy. This guide helps organizations develop a business case for gender equality to persuade senior leadership that equality is good for business.

The Global Business Case for Gender Equality

Workplace gender equality is a “win” for all. The equal involvement of women in the workplace contributes to meaningful returns on investment, and is associated with:

Increased Profitability and Organizational Performance

Engendering Industries partner, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL)—an Indian power utility—deployed all-women teams to work with neighborhoods where substantial revenue was being lost to power theft. By improving community relations, BRPL’s female teams connected 200 new households in high-loss areas to the grid, enabling them to recover 100 percent of billed revenue from these homes. Research shows that the top 25 percent of companies in male-dominated industries that have the most gender diverse executive leadership teams are 47 percent more profitable than those in the bottom 25 percent.

Improved National Productivity and Economic Growth

Excluding women from the workforce leads to inefficient economies, unequal growth, and missed opportunities for development. McKinsey estimates that achieving gender parity in the workplace could add as much as $12 trillion to the global economy.

Resilient Workplaces and National Economies That Can Withstand Shocks

Companies with gender-diverse boards outperform those with no women in terms of share price performance during times of crisis or volatility. Companies with greater gender diversity are better able to recruit and retain top talent, helping make them more versatile and resilient.

Enhanced Organizational Reputation and Ability to Attract Talent and Retain Employees

Companies with strong gender inclusion have improved employee satisfaction and reduced employee turnover and absenteeism.

Innovation

Inclusive business cultures lead to 59.1 percent increase in creativity, innovation, and openness, and 37.9 percent better assessment of consumer demand.

Three GridCo technicians pose in front of an electric power station
GridCo Technicians
Ryan Kilpatrick / USAID

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. 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. Through a customized best practices framework, demand-driven coaching, and a Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program, Engendering Industries builds the capacity of leaders to implement gender equality interventions that increase the professional participation of women and improve business performance.

Date 
Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 11:15am

Last updated: February 23, 2022