2.3.7. Resource 7: Private Sector Engagement


The private sector is a vital stakeholder in achieving global WEEGE goals. With access to networks of financial, physical, and social capital, the private sector creates and shapes opportunities for women across all industries and sectors. The private sector creates nine out of ten jobs in the developing world, and it also provides an important pathway to self-reliance and sustainability. It remains important that the private sector recognizes its role in promoting women’s economic empowerment through better business practices in areas such as safe working environments, hiring and recruitment, and technical training. Likewise, to leverage the strengths of the private sector and accelerate WEEGE globally, public and non-governmental actors alike must partner and engage with the private sector.

The resources in this section highlight evidence and opportunities for private actors to assess their business practices and effects on WEEGE. These resources highlight the importance of the private sector in creating an enabling environment, mitigating risk in the workplace, and unlocking opportunities for women.


Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)—Women’s Economic Empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recommendations for Business Action

This report seeks to mobilize greater private-sector action to enhance women’s economic empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It highlights key challenges facing women in SSA and offers companies operating in the region recommendations on how to promote women’s economic empowerment, both through their own actions and by enabling and influencing others. The report draws on research from three industries—apparel, mining, and mobile telecommunications—in Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)—Unlocking Opportunities for Women and Business: A Toolkit of Actions and Strategies for Oil, Gas, and Mining Companies

This toolkit presents detailed, step-by-step guidance for companies to move toward the goal of working equitably with men and women. It is designed to help companies maximize benefits by strengthening their workforce and supply chains, and by developing closer, more-positive working relationships with communities. The toolkit is a modular, customizable guide that includes four tool suites focused on: increasing gender diversity; women-owned businesses and the supply chain; women and community engagement; and addressing gender-based violence in the workplace.

The Partnership for Gender Equity—Gender Equity for the Coffee Value Chain: An Engagement Guide

This guide aims to catalyze action by industry actors in the coffee supply chain to design and implement interventions that support gender equity among men and women coffee farmers. The guide provides a roadmap and resources for industry actors to engage in conversations about gender equity and to identify actions to support gender equity, in their organizations and with supply chain partners. It complements existing tools and resources and shares success stories, lessons learned, and good practices from coffee businesses and actors. Additional Partnership for Gender Equity tools, such as the Introductory Guide for Coffee Organizations and Field Level Project Methodology to Accelerate Gender Equity in Coffee, can be requested online.

BSR—Building Effective Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategies: Sector-Specific Opportunities and the Case for Collaboration

This report builds on research conducted by ICRW and Dalberg Global Development Advisors, which describes eight building blocks and six business assets that are essential to designing and implementing successful women’s empowerment initiatives in the private sector. The report provides examples of how they can be applied in four industry sectors. Each industry—ICT, health care, financial services, and consumer products—by the nature of its activities and geographic reach, has a unique ability to contribute to women’s empowerment.

The Business Case

IFC—Executive Briefing: The Business Case for Gender-Smart Solutions in the Private Sector

This briefing is the first in a series demonstrating how companies that work with the IFC have put the business case into action. While different companies and sectors will take different approaches to the business case for gender-smart solutions, the briefing shows that potential benefits fit into three overlapping categories: improved human capital, enhanced market demand, and an enabling operating environment.

IFC—Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer-Supported Childcare

This report highlights innovative approaches that companies across sectors and regions have taken to better meet their employees’ childcare needs. Featuring ten case studies, the report shows how companies can choose from a range of childcare options, from on-site crèches to partnerships with governments and local childcare providers. As a result, companies can better attract and retain qualified staff, helping boost employee productivity and strengthening the bottom line. It is also a call to action, encouraging stakeholders to invest in childcare and support the infrastructure necessary for high-quality childcare providers to expand and meet the growing demand.

Oak Foundation—The Business Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment: An Integrated Approach

This report presents an integrated framework that the private sector can adopt to increase its return on investment and enhance women’s economic empowerment. The report outlines eight building blocks for an integrated approach: access to equitable and safe employment; education and training; access to and control over economic resources and opportunities; voice in society and policy influence; freedom from the risk of violence; freedom of movement; access to and control over healthy and family formation; and social protection and childcare.

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)—Costing the Impacts of Gender-based Violence (GBV) to Business: A Practical Tool

This brief is a step-by-step guide for ascertaining the multiple costs that businesses can bear due to GBV impacts. It is based on a thorough desk review of related literature and tools, as well as direct experience from a piloting exercise with three businesses in Papua New Guinea. The steps and proposals discussed provide a platform for technical practitioners in NGOs, academia, and businesses to better develop approaches to assessing the financial implications of GBV in the private sector. The tools presented are designed to appeal to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. The costing methodology and tools consist of four core steps: a framing of GBV definitions and scope; partnership development and collection of background data; fieldwork and feedback; and a cost-calculation and presentation phase.

Solutions and Lessons Learned

Equileap—Gender Equality Global Report and Ranking

Equileap assesses how good intentions around gender equality in the corporate sector translate into action. Its annual Gender Equality Global Report and Ranking highlights the status of gender equality within the largest 100 companies in the world and celebrates each year’s top performers. It measures how companies are making a difference in gender balance and gaining from the gender dividend—the positive impact identified by independent research showing that gender-diverse companies tend to produce above-trend returns, and have lower risks and better safety records.

IFC—Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Harassment: Emerging Good Practice for the Private Sector

Addressing gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) risks in the private sector in emerging markets is a relatively new area of work, and an incredibly complex one. This report is intended to provide practical guidance for the private sector on how to address GBVH risks in their operations and investments and to respond to reports of GBVH. The guidance is tailored to emerging markets and serves two audiences: (1) staff and consultants working for investors and the financial intermediaries providing finance in emerging markets (e.g., banks, funds, and private equity firms); (2) staff and consultants working for small, medium and large private sector companies operating in emerging markets. The guidance may also have wider interest for those working in government, state-owned enterprises, trade unions, NGOs, and people making investments in public-private partnerships. While the report is relevant across sectors, it also highlights some sector-specific risks.

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)—Women at the Forefront of Economic Prosperity in the 21st Century

The private sector offers a unique opportunity to increase profits and sustainability through the empowerment of women, both in business leadership roles and in the value chains of corporations. This document presents three solutions that the IDB Group has developed through studies and programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also showcases the benefits that these solutions can bring to companies that adopt them.

McKinsey & Company—Women Matter: Time to Accelerate - Ten Years of Insights into Gender Diversity

This publication provides an updated, fact-based picture of the representation of women in the top management of corporations around the world, bringing together key lessons from work in gender parity over the past ten years. It includes facts and insights from studies across regions to reinforce the case for change. The report also offers an overview of the persistent barriers and critical levers needed to make change happen, including ways to enable women’s participation, engage men, and build strong pipelines of women leaders.

Linda Scott—Private-Sector Engagement with Women’s Economic Empowerment: Lessons Learned from Years of Practice

This report describes the lessons learned by a group of major multinationals who have joined the effort to economically empower women through partnerships, research, and innovative programs. The aims of this research publication are, first, to encourage other corporations to join in this important global effort, and second, to offer suggestions to the international community on the role that business can and should play.

UN High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment—Driver 5 Working Group Paper: Changing Business Culture and Practice

This working paper provides case studies and links to help stakeholders implement recommendations from the UNHLP’s second report, which provides a blueprint for companies to incorporate women’s economic empowerment into their business strategy at every level of the value chain. The goal of the working paper is to galvanize action and engage new business partners in effective, timely, and broadly applicable practical actions to expand women’s opportunities for positive economic engagement. The recommendations focus on practical changes that can be applied universally across industries and that can have an immediate impact on business practice.

UN Women—The Power of Procurement: How to Source from Women-owned Businesses. Corporate Guide to Gender-responsive Procurement

Corporations are well-positioned to promote gender equality and empower women in their workplaces, in their communities, and through their purchasing policies and practices. The purpose of this guide is to provide corporations with a better understanding of the barriers and challenges that prevent women-owned businesses from accessing and fully participating in the corporate supply chain. It also provides tools and techniques for overcoming these barriers and leveraging the vast untapped economic potential represented by women-owned businesses.