What does gender equality have to do with business?
On 30 June 2016, UN Women, in collaboration with the UN Global Compact (UNGC) Local Network in Georgia, organized a training for UNGC members on how to use the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women through companies’ policies and operations. The UNGC members are some of the most active in the country in relation to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Twenty participants engaged in lively discussions on the causes and consequences of gender stereotypes, women’s rights risks in the supply chain, and sexual harassment in the workplace. UN Women seized the opportunity to ask Ms. Salome Zurabishvili, CSR Manager at the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) and contact person for the UNGC network in Georgia, why and how they are working on gender equality in the framework of corporate sustainability: “All the companies in the network have committed to implement the 10 UN Global Compact principles, and gender equality is a core part of these. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are integral parts of CSR. Companies need support to detect and prevent risks of women’s rights abuses, as well as capacities to actively promote gender equality. We believe that encouraging companies – and providing them with tools in doing so – will make their businesses more successful and sustainable and will also be good for society.” The CSR Club of Georgia, which unites 90 businesses and other stakeholders and includes CiDA as one of its chairs, has chosen the WEPs as one of three strategic directions for its work ahead. Why? Ms. Zurabishvili noted: “Gender equality is an acute issue in Georgia, but for many companies it is still an abstract concept. There is certain awareness of issues such as violence against women and the gender pay gap. But these are usually seen as problems unrelated to the ways that companies operate internally or externally through their supply chains or business relations. Members of the CSR Club have expressed interest in learning more about how they can assess their gaps in relation to gender equality. The partnership with UN Women enables us to offer this support to members – apart from other things, through promotion of the Women’s Empowerment Principles.” The WEPs training with the UNGC Local Network was the last in a wave of trainings implemented by UN Women from February to June 2016, through which 80 representatives of 40 private companies as well as other stakeholders have been trained on how to empower women in the workplace, the marketplace and the community. The trainings have been organized in collaboration with the CSR Club, the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, the Georgian Microfinance Association, the Millennium Challenge Account – Georgia, and the Georgian Association of Women in Business. The work on the WEPs now enters its second phase, focusing on supporting companies to create action plans for implementation of policies and initiatives to promote gender equality.
Photographer & Videographer Credit: UN Women, Georgia