Andrea Learned

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Gender Equality for Sustainable Business: No More Excuses

women in the audience at a conference

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Ignite New Zealand

Unless you’ve been asleep for the past few years, you’ve come across lots of research, news and books supporting the idea that gender balance in executive ranks and on corporate boards is simply good business – for market value and beyond. But, especially if you are in the community of folks involved in forwarding climate action and sustainability, a just released report from WomenRising2030 should be on your immediate to-read list. (Go read it… I can wait.)

And, even if you think you are familiar with the U.N. Global Goals, you may still be lazy about tackling Goal 5 on gender equality. Am I right? Instead – you should pretty much, start there. Per the report:

For companies integrating the Global Goals into their core strategies, pursuing gender equality not only in leadership but also throughout the business offers significant opportunities – economic and commercial as well as social and environmental. UN Women has observed that gender equality has a ‘multiplier effect’ on all of the Global Goals and recommends that organisations prioritise Goal 5 (gender equality).

This document includes the GLOBAL wisdom and voices of a wide variety of incredible women, including familiar climate action and sustainability leaders like Ceres’ Mindy Lubber, the International Trade Union Confederation’s Sharan Burrow, and the U.N. Foundation’s Kathy Calvin, as well as gender-balance experts like my long-time friend (from marketing to women days), Avivah Wittenberg Cox. On the connection between gender balanced leadership and sustainability, the report shares her view:

According to 20-first’s Wittenberg-Cox, business leaders who are ready to embrace sustainability in their strategies are usually more progressive in general. “They’re usually progressive on tech issues, and they’re usually progressive on social and political issues. They’re just ready to embrace the future more generally.”133 She referred to what she calls the four Ws: web, weather, world, and women.134 “Whether it’s technological change, climate issues, globalisation, or gender, they’re all interlinked, so the people who are leading on the one are usually leading on the others.”

So…have you prioritized that gender equality/diversity deep work session in your organization yet?

This document, to which I contributed a small piece, serves as a great inspiration, discussion tool, and innovation-generating resource. This is a loud and proud call to action. Get ON it!