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Bridging the Gap: Emerging Private Sector Response and Recovery Measures for Gender Equality amid COVID-19

International Finance Corporation UN Women

2020

Global

Report/Paper

Workplace Gender Equality

Gender equality WOMEN'S ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION

Bridging the Gap: Emerging Private Sector Response and Recovery Measures for Gender Equality amid COVID-19

Bridging the Gap: Emerging Private Sector Response and Recovery Measures for Gender Equality amid COVID-19

In response to how the pandemic has widened gender gaps around the world, companies are adopting practices that support gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have documented these efforts in a report, Bridging the Gap: Emerging Private Sector Response and Recovery Measures for Gender Equality amid COVID-19.

First published on the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) site, the report “aims to inform companies around the world on emerging practices and initiatives for supporting women employees, entrepreneurs and those in value chains amid the pandemic.” Nearly 90 companies and organisations operating in both developed and developing countries responded to a global survey; 41 of these companies are featured in the report.

The report is structured according to six areas of action or pillars impacting women’s economic empowerment: (1) promoting well-being and mental health; (2) providing flexibility and family-friendly policies; (3) enabling equal access and use of digital technologies and platforms; (4) ensuring equal access to financial and non-financial services; (5) strengthening inclusive supply chains and support for women-led businesses; and (6) addressing, preventing and mitigating gender-based violence.

Each thematic pillar provides a short introduction, examples of what companies and organisations are doing to further progress, and practices and takeaways that others can apply.

Featured good practices include:

  • Offering company helplines with psychologists to support workers’ mental health
  • Providing care kits to employees that tested positive for COVID-19 to highlight the importance of emotional care during isolation
  • Using apps to ensure workers’ health and well-being, with a focus on pregnant mothers
  • Providing flexible hours to support parents and those with care responsibilities
  • Encouraging equal share of care responsibilities
  • Offering financial support to women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses and commitments to purchase from women-led businesses
  • Offering capacity-building workshops and podcasts, as well as mentorship on digital marketing, strategic planning, and other subjects relevant to entrepreneurs
  • Providing access to digital technology to ensure business continuity
  • Developing and engaging in awareness-raising campaigns targeting gender-based violence amid the pandemic

The report demonstrates that even in unprecedented times, companies and organisations can establish an environment of trust and transparency, set and prioritise parity targets, and create innovative solutions that contribute to the economic inclusion and social well-being of employees, customers and suppliers, as well as local communities.

By fostering diversity and inclusion, they can achieve better business outcomes, including lower absenteeism and turnover, more innovation and employee engagement, access to new markets and investors, stronger reputation in the community, and higher productivity and profitability – ultimately, contributing to overall economic growth and a more resilient recovery.

The report may be downloaded from the IFC and WEPs websites.

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