Giving Compass’ Take:
• FSG explores gender equity as it relates to impact investment, giving advice for businesses that want to contribute to this area: Data, partnerships and embracing complexity are all keys.
• How can we look beyond Corporate Social Responsibility efforts in terms of creating more opportunities for women? Are there ways for foundations and nonprofits to engage in change at a systems-level?
Companies can create shared value by advancing gender equity at 3 levels:
- Developing products and services that address the unique needs and interests of men and women
- Strengthening the supply chain by integrating and building the capacity of women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs
- Creating an operating environment that addresses gender inequities and barriers to business growth
Nearly 10 years ago, Harvard Business Review published “The Female Economy,” noting that it represented a greater business opportunity than India and China combined.
It is important to note that investments in shared value opportunities across these 3 levels require different expectations in terms of financial returns and social impact. For example, investments in products and services may have a shorter time horizon to showing business and social results, while investments in the operating environment may require a greater risk tolerance and patience for showing results.
As a result, we see 4 steps that companies can take to best position their gender-related investments for success:
- Holistically examine the relevance of gender equity to your business.
- Don’t forget the data.
- Partner with NGOs.
- Embrace the complexity.
As more companies recognize that increasing the overall opportunities for women is good for business, we look forward to partnering with leaders who are authentically engaged in this area. We welcome your feedback on additional steps that companies should consider to make the most from their gender-related shared value strategies.
Read the full article about lessons for companies on gender equity by Laura S.L. Herman and Alexandra Geertz at FSG.
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