Despite progress, companies face gender equality ‘backlash’: UN business body

UN Global Compact/Chae Khin for Joel Sheakoski Photography Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact, speaking at CEO roundtable on resistance and backlash to gender equality.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Although the drive to reach gender equality has picked up speed, and diversity initiatives have been put into place in companies and organizations, a significant level of resistance and backlash remains, according to a leading UN business group.

On the side-lines of the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative – brought together business leaders from around the world to a roundtable at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, to find ways to address the stumbling blocks to gender equality.

There are many concrete examples of the private sector moving in a positive direction, with regard to gender equality, and tackling systemic sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. These include the promotion of women’s representation on corporate boards, a demand for greater investment in companies owned by women, and a recognition that gender equality is a critical business issue.

Another powerful statement of intent is the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles; an initiative of UN Global Compact and UN Women, which cover the range of ways that business can advance gender equality in the workplace. So far, over 2,000 global business leaders have signed up, and hundreds of companies around the world are using the Principles to inform their gender equality strategies.

Why the backlash?

However, resistance to gender equality initiatives has been identified as a problem that needs to be recognized and addressed. UN Global Compact has identified a number of reasons for the backlash.

These include a lack of understanding of the issue, which can occur when the business case for gender equality is not adequately explained; industry norms, where there is a persistent belief that some industries are better suited to either men or women; and fear of a loss of opportunities, status and position if there are gains made by women in the workplace.

“We can’t afford to take two steps back for every step forward,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, in a statement. “Gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. As we push for progress, there will be people who push back, shy away or fail to see the value of our action to advance equality. But we must keep moving forward.”

Gender equality: an airline industry perspective

Alan Joyce, the Chief Executive of Australian airline, Qantas, and a participant in the roundtable, believes that, with the right commitment, companies can do a lot to bring about gender equality more quickly, and influence society in the process.

Speaking to UN News after the CEO summit, Mr. Joyce said that, in an industry with strong gender stereotypes, Qantas has attempted to change perceptions, by prioritising images of female pilots and male cabin crew, and setting an ambitious target to reach gender parity amongst the company’s new pilot intake within 10 years.

Mr. Joyce accepts that, to achieve this goal, wider changes in society will be needed. Pilots need to be educated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related subjects but, today, only 13 per cent of girls are taking STEM subjects in school. However, “there is no point,” he said, “in blaming government or society for the slow pace of change, when the private sector can do a lot to influence change.”

The CEO Roundtable was organized by UN Global Compact and Male Champions of Change, a coalition of international business and government leaders established by Elizabeth Broderick, an independent expert on the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Twenty days that may remold the future of Europe

10th ASEM in Milan and the importance of being one: EU’s big challenge on the way to China

Silicon Valley can do more to achieve the #GlobalGoals

MEPs propose more transparent legislative drafting and use of allowances

Forced pregnancy in Italy violated ‘woman’s human right to health’, UN experts rule

Ukraine: The West and Russia negotiate shares of influence

Germany may prove right rejecting Commission’s bank resolution scheme

The Sting’s Values

Reject passivity and embrace ‘responsibility for our future,’ Lithuania’s President tells UN Assembly

Why is the EU launching a doomed policy in stopping immigrant waves? What are the real targets?

Eurozone at risk of home-made deflation and recession

On Youth Participation: Are we active citizens?

EU: 13 major banks may pay fines 10% of worldwide turnover

Discussion at Europe House: Brexit & Food

European Youth Forum and youngest MEPs call on President Juncker to keep his promise to Europe’s youth

Further reforms in Japan needed to meet the challenges of population ageing and high public debt

‘We face a global emergency’ over oceans: UN chief sounds the alarm at G7 Summit event

Except Poland, can climate change also wait until 2021 for the EU Market Stability Reserve to be launched?

UN launches drive to highlight environmental cost of staying fashionable

Medicine in the 4th Industrial Revolution: the third entity of the new doctor-patient relationship

Zuckerberg, a paella, and the mighty EU questionnaires that would stop Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook?

A Sting Exclusive: “Leading by example! EU must push for UN deal to avoid dangerous climate change”, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek cries out from Brussels

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

These countries have the highest minimum wages

Human rights: breaches in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan

From drought to floods in Somalia; displacement and hunger worsen, says UN

In Japan, if you’re 76 you’re biologically 65

Further reforms will promote a stronger and more inclusive Hungarian economy

Trump asked Merkel to pay NATO arrears and cut down exports ignoring the EU

ECB embarks on the risky trip to Eurozone banking universe

Who cares about the unity of Ukraine?

Central America: drought, resulting crop losses threaten food security of two million people, UN warns

A Valentine’s Special: we can never overdose on love

Drawing scenarios for drifting Britain; elections or May’s deadlock?

Why Europe is more competitive than the US

European Youth Forum warns of a Peter Pan generation as a result of financial crisis and response to it

WhatsApp to face scrutiny from EU regulators task force over data sharing with Facebook

We’ll succeed together

UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

EU signs with Canada historic trade agreement, others to follow

MWC 2016 LIVE: GTI shifts to phase two – 5G – after hitting milestones

Gaza probe finds ‘reasonable grounds’ Israeli forces committed international human rights violations

Commission considers anti-dumping duty on Chinese solar glass imports

EU-Turkey deal on migrants kicked off but to who’s interest?

EU finally to extend sanctions on Russia despite arguments; Greece again in Europe’s spotlight

EU Youth Conference in Riga concludes with recommendations for ministers

Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

Free trade agreement between EU and India?

Commission sets moderate greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030

Will Brexit shatter the EU or is it still too early to predict?

Costa Coffee products (Copyright: Costa Coffee; Source: Costa Coffee website, Press area)

The start of the “Caffeine rush”: Coca-Cola acquires Costa Coffee days after Nestlé-Starbucks deal

10 things Europe does better than the rest of the world

JADE at European Business Summit 2015

Time is running out to protect Africa’s forests

Global spotlight on world drug problem ‘is personal’ for many families, says UN chief

EU voters not interested in the European Parliament elections. What’s behind this European Titanic?

EU-Turkey relations: Will Turkey manage to revive the EU accession process talks?

The sun’s impact on Earth and weather celebrated, as planet marks World Meteorological Day

EU Member States test their cybersecurity preparedness for free and fair EU elections

EU out to conquer African Union summit

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s