LONDON, ENGLAND, November 30, 2017 — A new report authored by Emeritus Professor Linda Scott of the University of Oxford's Said Business School, reveals the global efforts of nine major multinational companies to better include women in the global economy and issues a call for more private sector participation.
The report “Private sector engagement with women's economic empowerment: Lessons learned from years of practice,” https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/faculty-research/research-projects/global-business-coalition-womens-economic-empowerment, draws on evidence from key global institutions showing that women have largely been excluded from full economic participation in every country in the world, but that global prosperity would substantially increase by including them.
“Economic inclusion of women is one of the critical challenges of our time, but it simply cannot be achieved without the engagement of the private sector,” said Linda Scott, Emeritus DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Oxford Said. “If more companies come together, working with governments and non-governmental organisations, worldwide change for women's economic empowerment could be within reach.”
The companies also announced the formation of the Global Business Coalition for Women's Economic Empowerment (GBC4WEE) under which they have shared key learnings from 57 years of collective experience. Members of the GBC4WEE include The Coca-Cola Company, ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, Marks & Spencer, Mondelez International, Mastercard, PwC, Qualcomm Incorporated and Walmart.
“Combined experience and shared thinking of the GBC4WEE partners suggest that women and the global economy truly benefit from women's economic empowerment programmes and that businesses too stand to gain,” observes Charlotte Oades of Coca-Cola, Chair of the GBC4WEE Steering Committee. “From a business perspective, we have identified product and supply improvements, market expansion, recruitment and retention of key talent, building brand reputation, supporting work relationships with governments and improving financial performance, as potential benefits to the private sector.”
In the report, Professor Scott distils discussions between the corporations during the three years that she convened the group at Oxford. Invited participants were large multinationals, with multiple touchpoints in the world economy, and with widely ranging economic empowerment programmes to: improve the yields of female farmers; bring women-owned businesses into their supply chains; engage in job training and entrepreneurship courses; or improve women's access to digital and financial programmes. Collectively, the companies shared lessons from their projects in 132 countries over the past decade, and brainstormed new approaches to increase the impact of this international effort. Based on these lessons, the report explains how and why businesses approach and evaluate women's empowerment programmes, insights that have not previously been available to the international government and NGO community.
Challenges arising during delivery of these programmes have led some member companies to develop innovative solutions to problems not normally associated with business such as education, health care and safety.
The Oxford report also references the size of the worldwide women's market, which is estimated to be larger than all of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies combined. From a marketing perspective, women in the developed world not only have huge purchasing power, but also are sensitive to the social reputation of the companies they buy from, particularly when other women are involved as labourers, vendors and users.
In the report, Professor Scott emphasised the need to plan for scale. “Patching one-off programmes onto women's economic exclusion will not solve the systemic problems women face, nor will such efforts last through changes in the political or budgetary environment. Women's inclusion must become part of the system, not just an add-on to it.”
According to Professor Scott, closing the gender gap in economics is an essential task that all nations must address. “Meeting this challenge will require every institutional sector to engage and work together,” she said. “The hope behind this report is that those who read it, especially among the world's largest corporations, will join the charge.”
Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the new GBC4WEE, and Professor Scott will launch the report at an event held at Chatham House in London on November 30, 2017. Professor Scott will present the key findings to an audience of government representatives, international agencies, NGOs, foundations and corporations, followed by a discussion moderated by Robin Niblett, Executive Director of Chatham House. Members of the press are invited to attend.
For more information or to speak with Dr Linda Scott please contact the Oxford press office:
About Said Business School
Said Business School at the University of Oxford blends the best of new and old. Said is a vibrant and innovative business school, but yet deeply embedded in an 800-year-old, world-class university. The institution creates programmes and ideas that have global impact and educates people for successful business careers. Said delivers cutting-edge programmes and ground-breaking research that transform individuals, organisations, business practice, and society. The school seeks to be a world-class business school community, embedded in a world-class University, tackling world-scale problems.
About Professor Scott
Linda Scott is Emeritus DP World Professor for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Said Business School, University of Oxford. Professor Scott and her colleagues at Oxford did some of the earliest, path-breaking research on women's economic empowerment in developing countries. Scott continues this work now, partnering with top corporations, global NGOs, governments and intergovernmental agencies, and foundations.
About the Global Business Coalition for Women's Economic Empowerment
The GBC4WEE was created to provide a platform for private sector participants in Women's Economic Empowerment to share the lessons they are learning about the challenges and opportunities of such programmes. Members include The Coca-Cola Company, ExxonMobil Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Marks & Spencer, Mondelez International, Mastercard, PwC, Qualcomm(R) Wireless Reach(TM) and Walmart.
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