Thursday, 28 November 2013

Women's Empowerment Principles

Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality

Leadership Promotes Gender Equality

  • Affirm high-level support and direct top-level policies for gender equality and human rights
  • Establish company-wide goals and targets for gender equality and include progress as a factor in managers’ performance reviews
  • Engage internal and external stakeholders in the development of company policies, programmes and implementation plans that advance equality
  • Ensure that all policies are gender-sensitive – identifying factors that impact women and men differently – and that corporate culture advances equality and inclusion

Principle 2: Treat all women and men fairly at work - respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination

Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Nondiscrimination

  • Pay equal remuneration, including benefits, for work of equal value and strive to pay a living wage to all women and men
  • Ensure that workplace policies and practices are free from gender-based discrimination
  • Implement gender-sensitive recruitment and retention practices and proactively recruit and appoint women to managerial and executive positions and to the corporate board of directors
  • Assure sufficient participation of women – 30% or greater – in decision-making and governance at all levels and across all business areas
  • Offer flexible work options, leave and re-entry opportunities to positions of equal pay and status
  • Support access to child and dependent care by providing services, resources and information to both women and men

Principle 3: Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers

Health, Safety and Freedom from Violence

  • Taking into account differential impacts on women and men, provide safe working conditions and protection from exposure to hazardous materials and disclose potential risks, including to reproductive health
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of violence at work, including verbal and/or physical abuse and prevent sexual harassment
  • Strive to offer health insurance or other needed services including for survivors of domestic violence - and ensure equal access for all employees
  • Respect women and men workers rights to time off for medical care and counseling for themselves and their dependents
  • In consultation with employees, identify and address security issues, including the safety of women traveling to and from work on company-related business
  • Train security staff and managers to recognize signs of violence against women and understand laws and company policies on human trafficking, labour and sexual exploitation

Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women

Education and Training

  • Invest in workplace policies and programmes that open avenues for advancement of women at all levels and across all business areas, and encourage women to enter nontraditional job fields
  • Ensure equal access to all company-supported education and training programmes, including literacy classes, vocational and information technology training
  • Provide equal opportunities for formal and informal networking and mentoring
  • Offer opportunities to promote the business case for women’s empowerment and the positive impact of inclusion for men as well as women

Principle 5: Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women

Enterprise Development, Supply Chain and Marketing Practices

  • Expand business relationships with women-owned enterprises, including small businesses, and women entrepreneurs
  • Support gender-sensitive solutions to credit and lending barriers
  • Ask business partners and peers to respect the company’s commitment to advancing equality and inclusion
  • Respect the dignity of women in all marketing and other company materials
  • Ensure that company products, services and facilities are not used for human trafficking and/or labour or sexual exploitation

Principle 6: Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy

Community Leadership and Engagement

  • Lead by example – showcase company commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • Leverage influence, alone or in partnership, to advocate for gender equality and collaborate with business partners, suppliers and community leaders to promote inclusion
  • Work with community stakeholders, officials and others to eliminate discrimination and exploitation and open opportunities for women and girls
  • Promote and recognize women’s leadership in, and contributions to, their communities and ensure sufficient representation of women in any community consultation
  • Use philanthropy and grants programmes to support company commitment to inclusion, equality and human rights

Principle 7: Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

Transparency, Measuring and Reporting

  • Make public the company policies and implementation plan for promoting gender equality
  • Establish benchmarks that quantify inclusion of women at all levels
  • Measure and report on progress, both internally and externally, using data disaggregated by sex
  • Incorporate gender markers into ongoing reporting obligations

She Taxi -- Service for Women Travellers and Operated by Women Entrepreneurs

"She Taxi”, a service for women travellers and operated by women entrepreneurs, was launched in the Kerala capital.

The “She Taxi” is a 24×7 service that can be booked through mobile phones and online.

Women travelling alone or with families can dial the customer care centre which will provide them with a unique identification code and the vehicle number on their mobile phones.

Manju Warrier is the brand ambassador for ‘She Taxi’.

This is the first initiative of the Gender Park, an institution newly established under the state’s department of social justice to work towards gender equity.

Popular actress Manju Warrier, the brand ambassador of “She Taxi”, flagged off the service at a ceremony here.
What makes “She Taxi” such a wonderful project is that it is a means of livelihood for a set of women and a safe and secure mode of transport for another, the actress said.

She also urged more women entrepreneurs to come forward to operate the taxis.

The actress said it was a much-needed service for the ever-growing number of women employees in sectors such as IT, media, travel and hospitality who have to work and travel at odd hours.

The first five women drivers of the taxi fleet received the keys from Warrier.

Associates of the “She Taxi” project are Maruti Suzuki Ltd, Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation (KSWDC) which will provide financing support for the entrepreneurs and Technopark-based Rain Concert Technologies, which provides the much needed IT support.

Maruti Suzuki Ltd is supplying the taxis and providing training to the women drivers.

The “She Taxis” come with multiple security systems, which include a control room that tracks the taxis in real-time using GPS, personal emergency alert switches for drivers and passengers inside the car and a similar safety alert app is installed on the mobile phones of the women drivers.

Source : IANS 2013-11-19 21:56:13 

Women Today are the key Influencers of Purchase Decisions | Strategies for Success– by Mamatha Chamarthi

Empowering women is not a “woman’s” cause, nor a “social” cause. While aiding the empowerment of women indeed benefits women, it ultimately benefits the global business community. Empowering women to reach for and attain positions of influence in the workforce recognizes the value of diversity. Therefore, empowering women is an economic cause.
Women today are the key influencers of purchase decisions. In the auto arena, women influence 80 percent of all car purchases, and account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases. Companies with a stake in capturing the power of the female market segment must align with that same segment in their own companies by hiring and empowering women as key contributors to the company’s success.
Companies that do embrace the contributions of women are rewarded. Organizational Health Index (OHI) measures external orientation, coordination, control and six other factors. According to a Mckinsey study, companies with three or more women in top positions scored higher in OHI. Companies with high OHI displayed superior financial performance.
Beneficial attributes that women bring to the workforce include exceptional leadership abilities. Competencies in this area include intellectual stimulation, inspiration, participatory decision-making, and setting expectations and rewards. Women also are skilled networkers and visionaries in strategic and operational thinking. Despite obvious benefits, empowering women is not a tactic universally employed in business today. We can review some sobering statistics. By comparing the global employment rate, of which 64 percent are women, we see that the U.S. lags behind considerably at 47 percent.
To illustrate this, as talent enters the pipeline, many companies hire equal numbers of men and women. But as employees move up the ladder, the number of women in leadership roles starts to wane. Women represent 53 percent of new hires; 37 percent are in middle management (a key first step in career advancement); 26 percent are in a VP or senior role; 14 percent are in an executive or CEO role; and only three percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
How do we, as a society, help women “shatter the glass ceiling”? Drawing on my own experience, it begins with a commitment to breaking stereotypes and working to change institutional mindsets. In particular, a woman’s career development must be approached with a number of strategies in mind.
As a woman, I have seen that it is important for us to be confident in our qualifications and capabilities. For an optimal work-life balance, we should set expectations after we land the job. Also, don’t be afraid to take chances and do not say no to any opportunity. It is also important for women to contribute to productivity improvements in the workplace. For this reason, it is very beneficial for women to train in disciplines with impact on productivity such as finance, professional services, and science and technology. Women should also actively pursue a mentor, become mentors themselves, and always share their knowledge with others.
Also, women should not forget to reach out for help. No one alone is perfect, but by building strong and sincere relationships with their resources, networks and mentors, women can invest in that network for assistance before asking for favors. Lastly, women can move upward into new roles by selling themselves on their potential, not just past or current experience.
For leaders, promote women based on potential and intervene at critical career points. Also be a mentor, sponsor others to provide opportunities, and serve as role models.
In conclusion, parents, teach your children early that nothing is off limits to any gender.
This article was previously published in the symposium proceedings of the “Empowering Women in the Global Community” symposium in the Oakland Journal, found here [PDF].
Mamatha Chamarthi spoke in the final panel of the symposium titled “Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Women in Business Benefit Dinner” at MeadowBrook Hall.