March 8th is International Women’s Day. This commemoration recognizes social, political and economic achievements that women have obtained over more than a century, as well as creates a space for reflection on the challenges women still face today. Let’s use this opportunity to evaluate if we are truly committed to promoting an inclusive development that foments the values of equality and justice.
International Women’s Day is often associated with the suffragist movement, but in reality, this date is rooted in the first demonstrations carried out by women workers in North America and Europe in favor of workers’ rights. The precarious working conditions, low salaries, and scarce professional development opportunities fueled disputes between business owners and workers, which in turn brought about strong social movements.
More than 100 years after these first demands to recognize female labor rights, there have been concrete advances. Today, the right to equal pay, the eradication of workplace discrimination, and job security during pregnancy, among others, have been widely recognized in the shape of international norms and national laws.
In spite of this, we are far from ideal conditions. Until now, no country has managed to close the gender gap in terms of economic participation and opportunity. Women continue earning lower salaries than men for the same work, and they face professional barriers that hinder their access to leadership positions.
As entrepreneurs, we play a key role in promoting advances in gender equality and women’s labor rights in our companies. The success of our efforts largely depends on our actions. We need to remember our responsibility to women and renew our commitment to promoting their equal participation in the workforce. First, through implementing corporate measures aimed at identifying female talent, such as hiring methods and personnel recruitment from a gender perspective. Second, through talent retention initiatives, such as flexible working conditions, and parental leaves. Lastly, to foster female talent, we must guarantee access to training that allows women to compete for leadership positions, implement networking practices with a gender approach, and increase mentorship programs designed for women.
As entrepreneurs, we have the power to pave the way for women’s advancement and set new standards to achieve change. Let´s reaffirm our solidarity with women, assuming the responsibility of recognizing and enforcing their labor rights.
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.