How can business most effectively support women’s economic empowerment, through their value chains and beyond?


(Fiona Jarden) #41

Hi, I’m Fiona from CARE International UK, and I agree with the comments that businesses should be prioritising women’s access to finance in order to be productive in the value chain. Women first need unrestricted access to quality financial services, such as ability to open a bank account and access credit. Financial institutions allow female workers to more productively utilise their earnings. Our evidence shows that once linked to an account, women grow their businesses in the value chain by 22% within the first 6 months of having an account (Link Up, 2015). Businesses, especially the financial service sector, therefore need to ensure that quality, suitable products are on the market and accessible for all women, irrespective or their earnings patterns and locations.


(Alex MacGillivray) #42

Parvez, could you say something about the textile sector in Bangladesh? Rachel Heath's study suggests it has been an incredible engine for empowering young women, yet we also know there are many problems in the sector.


(georgie) #43

Women form a huge part of our consumer base, and an increasingly growing consumer class, so they are our customers, and they make purchase decisions - how to we recognize what they need, and respond to their preferences. Women form a critical part of our supply chain, as farmers of raw materials, in our manufacturing and employee work force, as a majority (70%) of the hospitality industry through which we access consumers, so there is a strong business case that empowering and providing equal opportunity throughout our value chain, we will bring benefit to individuals, communities and our business.


(Ekanath Khatiwada) #44

I totally agree with Georgie,

georgie said:

Women form a huge part of our consumer base, and an increasingly growing consumer class, so they are our customers, and they make purchase decisions - how to we recognize what they need, and respond to their preferences. Women form a critical part of our supply chain, as farmers of raw materials, in our manufacturing and employee work force, as a majority (70%) of the hospitality industry through which we access consumers, so there is a strong business case that empowering and providing equal opportunity throughout our value chain, we will bring benefit to individuals, communities and our business.


(Hester le Roux) #45

The DFID survey that we ran as part of this Challenge showed that a small number of businesses are looking closely at their value chains through a gendered lens: while a third of respondents collect data on the number of women-owned enterprises in their value chains, only 15% look into supplier’s gender awareness or equality policies, and only 13% have policies requiring suppliers to improve outcomes for women employees. It looks like promoting women’s empowerment through value chains is not yet mainstream enough?


(Hester le Roux) #46

Thank you for all your contributions on working through value chains. Let us move on to our second question...


(Gerry Boyle) #47

Margaux - I think your three priorities make a lot of sense - financial inclusion, particularly access to savings, we know is absolutely key and our work with women in savings groups has increasoingly focussed on gender role discussions with men and boys and the wider community, to ensure that women really do share in control of income and assets



Margaux Yost said:

I second Gerry. The HERproject takes a two-pronged approach to its workplace programs implement in the global supply chains.

1. Working directly with farm and factory management to ensure that workplace systems, policies and practices enable the environment for women to uptake empowered behaviors.

2. Making low-income workers (predominantly women) the recipient of BCC trainings. Empowering women in global value chains requires a deep understanding of the specific needs that low-income working women face. We’ve identified three primary areas of empowerment as a focus for HERproject: heath, financial inclusion, and positive gender relations.


(Tania Beard) #48

Gerry that's such a key point. What we've seen is if the focus is on economic empowerment alone, without consideration of the power dynamics at the community and household level, you can end up with a backlash. The design of the economic empowerment programme needs to be broad and deliberate about this.

Gerry Boyle said:

Another point which we are very aware of is that if investments are made in women and their output increases in productivity and therefore value, there is a risk that men step in and increasingly take over ownership of the output. So we do need to be working on men’s and community attitudes to ensure women retain some control over the value they create.


(Nicky Major) #49



Hester le Roux said:

Referring to this extract from the WEP CEO statement: “Equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do – it is also good for business. The full participation of women in our enterprises and in the larger community makes sound business sense now and in the future. A broad concept of sustainability and corporate responsibility that embraces women’s empowerment as a key goal will benefit us all.” - What are the main elements of the business case for women's empowerment for you, Georgie?

georgie said:

We have found that it's important to demonstrate the business case for creating shared value if possible in commercial or financial language that business stakeholders can understand, through savings, growth opportunities, reputational benefits, licence to operate and grow. We have developed some internal tools to help us do this such as the social impact framework but this is a work in progress

Nicky said: Women contribute diversity of thought and action. When you can bring diverse minds together you ask better questions and get better answers. This applies to everything from innovation through to risk management. There is now a significant amount of evidence that proves the business case for having more women involved. It needs to be understood and shared.


(Hester le Roux) #50

SESSION 1, Q2: How can companies’ internal policies and practices contribute to greater economic empowerment for women?


(georgie) #51

We are increasing our work in farmers in raw materials, in Kenya the team at EABL has implemented enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women, recruiting and supporting over 30,000 farmers as part of the commercialization of our value chain over 7 years, of which more than 50% are women farmers, agents and aggregators. this has helped to commercialise Sorghum from a subsistence crop and provide greater financial empowerment to women

Hester le Roux said:

Referring to this extract from the WEP CEO statement: “Equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do – it is also good for business. The full participation of women in our enterprises and in the larger community makes sound business sense now and in the future. A broad concept of sustainability and corporate responsibility that embraces women’s empowerment as a key goal will benefit us all.” - What are the main elements of the business case for women's empowerment for you, Georgie?

georgie said:

We have found that it's important to demonstrate the business case for creating shared value if possible in commercial or financial language that business stakeholders can understand, through savings, growth opportunities, reputational benefits, licence to operate and grow. We have developed some internal tools to help us do this such as the social impact framework but this is a work in progress


(Alex MacGillivray) #52

Fiona, so right. I was looking at financial inclusion data for Uganda yesterday. For every four young women from the lowest income groups (bottom 40%), only one has any sort of account. How can we close the double youth & gender gap?

Fiona Jarden said:

Hi, I’m Fiona from CARE International UK, and I agree with the comments that businesses should be prioritising women’s access to finance in order to be productive in the value chain. Women first need unrestricted access to quality financial services, such as ability to open a bank account and access credit. Financial institutions allow female workers to more productively utilise their earnings. Our evidence shows that once linked to an account, women grow their micro-enterprises by 22% within the first 6 months of having an account (Link Up, 2015). Businesses, especially the financial service sector, therefore need to ensure that quality, suitable products are on the market and accessible for all women, irrespective or their earnings patterns and locations.


(Jonathan Horrell) #53

This is critically important because there is evidence women are more likely than men to spend income on children’s education and health. Women often have greater concern for the social viability of cocoa communities. So economic women’s empowerment is a key factor in helping communities to thrive.


(georgie) #54

in our communities, we are committed to building thriving communities by 2020, and through Plan W we're working to improve gender equality in the workplace and service standards in the hospitality industry, grow skills in the communities in which Diageo operates, and raise awareness among our consumers. We've trained over 164,000 women, indirectly impacting over 823,000 people. Training is increasing access to jobs, increasing income, increasing confidence levels, strengthening hospitality workforce delivering shared value for the company, and earning positive trust and reputation for Diageo.

georgie said:

We are increasing our work in farmers in raw materials, in Kenya the team at EABL has implemented enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women, recruiting and supporting over 30,000 farmers as part of the commercialization of our value chain over 7 years, of which more than 50% are women farmers, agents and aggregators. this has helped to commercialise Sorghum from a subsistence crop and provide greater financial empowerment to women

Hester le Roux said:

Referring to this extract from the WEP CEO statement: “Equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do – it is also good for business. The full participation of women in our enterprises and in the larger community makes sound business sense now and in the future. A broad concept of sustainability and corporate responsibility that embraces women’s empowerment as a key goal will benefit us all.” - What are the main elements of the business case for women's empowerment for you, Georgie?

georgie said:

We have found that it's important to demonstrate the business case for creating shared value if possible in commercial or financial language that business stakeholders can understand, through savings, growth opportunities, reputational benefits, licence to operate and grow. We have developed some internal tools to help us do this such as the social impact framework but this is a work in progress


(Hester le Roux) #55

It seems the majority of organisations that responded to the DFID survey have policies in place that contribute to women’s empowerment within their own organisations, ranging from maternity and paternity leave provision; anti-discriminatory rules on hiring, progression and pay; encouragement from senior leadership to support empowerment practices; and mentoring and career development programmes.


(Nicky Major) #56

In response to question 2 on How can companies’ internal policies and practices contribute to greater economic empowerment for women 2 quick comments.

Having policies and processes in place to support women in workplace is vital. We know that gender balance does not just happen within most businesses. It is vital to have policies and process in place to be able to measure and monitor a diversity profile. Having that will create some positive impact. But that isn’t enough – you need proactive action such as sponsorship of women from the leaders of the organization to ensure they are positioned to take up leadership positions when they become available. It is about the level playing field.

Diversity on its own isn’t enough. You have to have an inclusive approach too. It is about making a diverse population thrive. Valuing the differences and making everyone feel included so they can bring the best of themselves to their roles.


(Parvez Mohammad Asheque) #57

Thanks Hester for asking. CARE Bangladesh is actually contemplating scale-up of this initiative by engaging with another market leader in the dairy sector of Bangladesh. The potentials for scale-up is massive, since private companies are looking for complimentary invest to organize and mobilize communities and develop community based service provision to extend their business models. What is an important take way here is how we improve the ecosystem for a particular product or service, and how effectively women are part of that ecosystem.

Hester le Roux said:

Thanks for that excellent example Parvez. What is the scope for replicating this initiative in another sector, or escaping it up to increase reach and impact?

Parvez Mohammad Asheque said:

Hi, I am Parvez , Director Private Sector Engagement at CARE Bangladesh.

There has to be first of all an appreciation among business leaders that everybody wins when you invest on women. Women are often not even part of formal value chains, rather part of unpaid labor within the value chain. It is not as straightforward as one would like, to see through that women are actually engaging productively in value chains and more importantly benefiting equitably from their engagement.

For companies, they have to make deliberate attempts to ensure that women are participating in value chains, and gainfully. This is where NGO and private sector co-creations and collaborations can work out. My colleague Gerry Boyle has talked about the Dairy Value chain experience in Bangladesh. To add to that, animal rearing has always been a household occupation where women would engage, but that never constituted a primary source of income for the household or an economic role for the women. This is where CARE and BRAC Dairy partnership has mad all the difference. By introducing digital fat testing, fair price (and much higher than what they would get earlier) has been ensured.

The value chain of milk collection for processing has fully fledged and become efficient as a result of CARE’s complimentary investment (through private foundation’s social investment) side by side BRAC’s core business investment. BRAC being the lead firm has benefited from the investment that has offered it the risk capital to venture into this new business model, while as many as 30,000 households (75%of the participants are women) have permanently scaled out of poverty, generated economic and social wealth to improve their livelihoods by investing on health, education and other essential social services. A new cadre of service providers, called collection point managers, have emerged who are facilitating transactions between the milk processing units and households who produce milk through animal husbandry. Collection point managers, offer aggregation points as well as fat testing provision paving the way for transparent terms of trade for the individual households based on quality of milk. Extension services in the form of inputs, feed, vaccines and animal health services have emerged through a social franchise of micro entrepreneurs.


(georgie) #58

Diageo's

georgie said:

in our communities, we are committed to building thriving communities by 2020, and through Plan W we're working to improve gender equality in the workplace and service standards in the hospitality industry, grow skills in the communities in which Diageo operates, and raise awareness among our consumers. We've trained over 164,000 women, indirectly impacting over 823,000 people. Training is increasing access to jobs, increasing income, increasing confidence levels, strengthening hospitality workforce delivering shared value for the company, and earning positive trust and reputation for Diageo.

georgie said:

We are increasing our work in farmers in raw materials, in Kenya the team at EABL has implemented enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women, recruiting and supporting over 30,000 farmers as part of the commercialization of our value chain over 7 years, of which more than 50% are women farmers, agents and aggregators. this has helped to commercialise Sorghum from a subsistence crop and provide greater financial empowerment to women

Hester le Roux said:

Referring to this extract from the WEP CEO statement: “Equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do – it is also good for business. The full participation of women in our enterprises and in the larger community makes sound business sense now and in the future. A broad concept of sustainability and corporate responsibility that embraces women’s empowerment as a key goal will benefit us all.” - What are the main elements of the business case for women's empowerment for you, Georgie?

georgie said:

We have found that it's important to demonstrate the business case for creating shared value if possible in commercial or financial language that business stakeholders can understand, through savings, growth opportunities, reputational benefits, licence to operate and grow. We have developed some internal tools to help us do this such as the social impact framework but this is a work in progress


(Hester le Roux) #59

Supporting what you'r saying about diversity Nicky - McKinsey’s 2014 “Diversity Matters” report found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median.

Nicky Major said:

In response to question 2 on How can companies’ internal policies and practices contribute to greater economic empowerment for women 2 quick comments.

Having policies and processes in place to support women in workplace is vital. We know that gender balance does not just happen within most businesses. It is vital to have policies and process in place to be able to measure and monitor a diversity profile. Having that will create some positive impact. But that isn’t enough – you need proactive action such as sponsorship of women from the leaders of the organization to ensure they are positioned to take up leadership positions when they become available. It is about the level playing field.

Diversity on its own isn’t enough. You have to have an inclusive approach too. It is about making a diverse population thrive. Valuing the differences and making everyone feel included so they can bring the best of themselves to their roles.


(Parvez Mohammad Asheque) #60



Alex MacGillivray said:

Parvez, could you say something about the textile sector in Bangladesh? Rachel Heath's study suggests it has been an incredible engine for empowering young women, yet we also know there are many problems in the sector.

Hi Alex, I am try not be overwhelmed by the amount of posts flying around. Undoubtedly it is! 80% of the 4 million workforce is women. Fewer than 5 % women hold managerial position. They lack access to sexual and reproductive health rights and services, among others