Four Lessons for Companies Investing in Gender Equity

Aug 23, 2017 8:00 AM ET

Last month, we discussed the business case for gender equity and the growing momentum among corporations to create new value and capture untapped value by advancing gender equity through their core business. Companies can create shared value by advancing gender equity at 3 levels:

  1. Developing products and services that address the unique needs and interests of men and women
  2. Strengthening the supply chain by integrating and building the capacity of women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs
  3. Creating an operating environment that addresses gender inequities and barriers to business growth

Products and Services

Nearly 10 years ago, Harvard Business Review published “The Female Economy,” noting that it represented a greater business opportunity than India and China combined. More recently Bloomberg estimated that women control 85 percent of all consumer purchases. Across industries, from financial service to travel, to computing, to healthcare, companies are redesigning their products to better serve women, opening up new commercial opportunities.

In financial services, Westpac has a business unit solely focused on supporting the financial needs of women in the business world. Tesla is disrupting the automotive industry by creating an SUV targeted at the practical needs of women who want easy access to third-row seats. Looking at innovation from the perspective of entrepreneurial ventures, Fast Company recognized 10 innovations that are improving women’s lives by redesigning wearable technologies, breast pumps, fashion, and health products.

Networks and intermediaries can also play a valuable role in supporting companies to innovate and explore new markets by advancing gender equity. The Global Banking Alliance (GBA) for Women, for example, plays a key role for its member banks by supporting the development and design of new financial products that consider gender-related barriers to financial products and services. The GBA fosters learning and exchange across its members by generating case studies, sharing tools and best practices, and disseminating research.

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