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


(Polly Le Grand) #121

Good afternoon. I’m Polly Le Grand. I’m an economic adviser at the UK Department for International Development (DFID). I’m working in our Growth and Resilience Department on women’s economic empowerment issues. I’m really looking forward to the conversation today.


(Nicky Major) #122

Hi, I’m Nicky Major from EY, a global professional services organization. I lead our corporate social responsibility activity. Diversity and inclusiveness is a business issue for us both within our organization and outside. We know our teams work better with a good gender balance and companies large and small work better when they have more women involved. We also recognise the huge opportunity there is for getting more women actively involved in the global economy and our purpose is to help build a better working world.


(Shruthi Jayaram) #123


Good morning everyone. I’m representing Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a strategic advisory firm focused exclusively on global development (www.dalberg.com). I’m a Senior Consultant in Dalberg's New York office and work across the public, private and non-profit sectors in the areas of gender, inclusive growth, agriculture, access to finance, and education. I co-lead Dalberg’s global Gender Expertise Area.


(georgie) #124

Good morning / good afternoon everyone. I’m Georgie Passalaris, the skills and empowerment manager in sustainable development at Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol brands including Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, vodka, Baileys and Guinness. Based in Singapore, I lead women’s empowerment programme Plan W, I also partner with HR to support Diageo’s diversity and inclusion ambitions. I’m by no means a gender expert, but I’m keen to share some of our experiences as we continually strengthen the work we’re doing to address women’s economic empowerment and learn more from you.


(Alex MacGillivray) #125

I'm Alex MacGillivray from CDC, the UK development finance institution. My job is to understand CDC's development impact, focused on more and better jobs.


(Hester le Roux) #126

Thank you panellists. As you all know, this discussion forms part of the BFP/CARE Challenge on Women’s Economic Empowerment, supported by DFID and Diageo. It’s one of a series of events and other activities we are organising, all aimed at generating messages to the High Level Panel.

You will find some introductory comments about the High Level Panel from Sumana here.

While the subject of private sector support for women’s economic empowerment is obviously huge and complex, we are focusing today on four particular areas where companies can make a meaningful contribution: value chains; internal policies and practices; external marketing and customer engagement; and addressing systemic barriers.

Our panellists have expertise in one or more of these areas and will share their insights on how business can most effectively support women’s empowerment. Then we want to hear from you about your own experiences and the lessons you have learnt: what works? What needs more work? How can successful programmes be scaled up? And what can governments and donor organisations do to help ensure more companies take effective action to support women’s empowerment?


(Hester le Roux) #127

In our first session earlier today we focused in particular on the first two areas. This time we would like to focus on the third and fourth areas - external marketing and customer engagement and systemic barriers.
However we do want to give you a chance to post your comments and questions on the first two questions as well, so let’s get started with Question 1:

SESSION 2, Q1: How can business best support women’s economic empowerment working through their value chains?


(Gerry Boyle) #128

Hester earlier today highlighted that the DFID survey that Business Fight Poverty ran as part of this Challenge showed that only 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. So it looks like promoting women’s empowerment through value chains is not yet mainstream enough. Yet we know that women play a key role for instance in the supply of many commodities (we heard about cocoa earlier) yet women have much less access to extension services, inputs and finance than men. This lack of access by the people actually doing the work weakens the entire value chain. So, as Sumana pointed out earlier, businesses need much better data about where women are in their value chains, but also a lot more work on supporting them directly.


(Hester le Roux) #129

You can jump back to comments on Question 1 in the earlier session here


(Shruthi Jayaram) #130

Shruthi: Companies can support programs that actively train women and suppliers/distributors along their value chain. We have seen Nestle, for example, do this with the cocoa supply chain (See our report: The Business Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment: An Integrated Approach)


(Benjamin Zeitlyn) #131

Hello, I’m Benjamin Zeitlyn. I work in the Gender Team at DFID and with Sumana and Polly on the UN High Level Panel. I’m really interested to see the different responses to this question.


(Gerry Boyle) #132

From CARE’s many years of experience working in agricultural value chains, we think that some of as well as identifying where women are working in the value chain, the other key issues are taking a systems approach (see Q4), looking at where risk lies, innovation and getting to scale. (See our report: “Adding Value to Value Chains”, http://bit.ly/1PKEKJ0 )


(georgie) #133

What strikes you about the answers Benjamin?

Benjamin Zeitlyn said:

Hello, I’m Benjamin Zeitlyn. I work in the Gender Team at DFID and alongside with Sumana and Polly on the UN High Level Panel. I’m really interested to see the different responses to this question.


(Gianluca Nardi) #134

Hello, I'm Gianluca Nardi, Senior Women's Economic Empowerment Adviser in CIUK.

We have seen in Cocoa Life that women have an important role in cocoa production (and also in chocolate consumption) and quality even if this crop is normally considered a male crop. However, although at least 50% of the cocoa production activities are conducted by women, they have more limited access then men to training opportunities, credit, cooperatives membership.

It is important for companies to understand that women without access and control over productive resources along their supply chain, beyond being a social justice issue also represents an inefficiency from the business perspective and a missed opportunity to improve the quality and productivity of the supply. Once there is an internal buy-in on both the ethical and business case the company has the possibility to leverage a broad range of internal resources.

It is for this reason that Mondelez is investing important resources in improving their understanding about the progress of WEE in their supply chain in West Africa and to promote WEE.

Cocoa Life is also a great example of holistic approach to VC development that consider all the different dimensions that have an impact on the business enabling environment for coco producers and that sees WEE as a fundamental aspect.


(Alex MacGillivray) #135

I heard on Monday that Unilever too is addressing this topic with a target for 2020 https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/transformational-change/creating-opportunities-for-women/


(Gerry Boyle) #136


Shruthi - Hi. Did Nestle find much pushback from the male farmers or local communities on the training of women?
Shruthi Jayaram said:

Shruthi: Companies can support programs that actively train women and suppliers/distributors along their value chain. We have seen Nestle, for example, do this with the cocoa supply chain (See our report: The Business Case for Women’s Economic Empowerment: An Integrated Approach)


(Shruthi Jayaram) #137


Absolutely agree - another nuance on the data need is that we don't know what works and what doesn't since many of these programs are new. Gerry, have you seen any evaluations that are robust/interesting that could shed light on this?

Gerry Boyle said:

Hester earlier today highlighted that the DFID survey that Business Fight Poverty ran as part of this Challenge showed that only 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. So it looks like promoting women’s empowerment through value chains is not yet mainstream enough. Yet we know that women play a key role for instance in the supply of many commodities (we heard about cocoa earlier) yet women have much less access to extension services, inputs and finance than men. This lack of access by the people actually doing the work weakens the entire value chain. So, as Sumana pointed out earlier, businesses need much better data about where women are in their value chains, but also a lot more work on supporting them directly.


(Polly Le Grand) #138

I agree with Gerry. It's important to know where women are now, but also look for where they could move to in the value chain.


(Hester le Roux) #139

We had quite an in-depth discussion about value chains earlier today - you can jump back to comments from that session here. Perhaps we can move on to our second question:

SESSION 2, Q2: How can companies’ internal policies and practices contribute to greater economic empowerment for women?


(Gianluca Nardi) #140

Business can have an important role in providing technical assistance to cocoa producers in a way that is gender sensitive according to the local culture and existing constraints. For instance, trainers can learn to be gender sensitive in their sessions, they can provide access to women who might have mobility problems, they can make sure that needs of women with small children are kept into account. Having women technical assistance providers can also be an important step forward to shift the perceptions around women’s role in specific crops.

Another interesting model developed in Ghana is the Women Extension Agents, or Community Based Extension Agents. They are women from the community trained to provide TA within their same community on a voluntary basis, although they often receive some cost recovery from the same producers.

Farmers Filed and Business Schools is another community based model delivering TA and business training to groups of women through demonstration in model farms building upon existing groups like the VSLAs. It works with groups of women and works on business management aspects beyond agriculture.