by Mary Menzemer
Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact was formed to encourage businesses and firms worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to provide reporting guidelines for their implementation. One of the largest corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives currently in existence, over 13,000 businesses have participated from 160 countries.
The Target Gender Equality program was created to help reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.5, which is to “ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.”  The UN calls the lack of gender equity in leadership, “one of the largest human rights challenges we face.” While gender equality and equity in the workforce is not a new topic, it is essential to drive business performance and advance corporate sustainability.
The Women’s Empowerment Principles, established by UN Women and UN Global Compact, emphasize the business case for gender equality and women’s empowerment:
- Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
- Principle 2: Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
- Principle 3: Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
- Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women
- Principle 5: Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
- Principle 6: Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
- Principle 7: Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality 
The Target Gender Equality Program uses performance analysis (using the Women’s Empowerment Principles’ Gender Gap Analysis Tool), capacity building (such as workshops, setting targets, formulating strategies for success, and measuring and communicating progress), action dialogues on how to break down barriers, and advocacy through newsletters and LinkedIn to help companies bolster their gender equality programs and encourage new practices for scaling up equality efforts.
During the 2020 program run:
- 307 companies participated with more than 8 million employees
- 83% of participants drafted gender targets for top management
- 68% of participants drafted gender targets at the board level
- And a total of 254 gender equality interventions were planned
Signups and onboarding for the 2021 edition of the program will continue through June and July, with performance analysis planned for August-September, capacity building planned for October-February, and a final action dialogue and live event planned for March 2022. Additional voluntary opportunities are available as well for companies who want to take additional action.
This year, 45 countries are offering the program. Click here to view the full list.
If your company is interested in joining this year’s
program, more information can be found on the UN Global Compact site here.