Socially responsible corporations do not define their success solely in terms of financial profit; they pledge towards making a positive impact in the world. In the last few years, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities have focused on developing responsible businesses in terms of market, environment, community and workplace.
The commitment towards increasing environmental sustainability has become essential to the mission of many corporations. They have begun to monitor their ecological footprint; a move that responds to the demands of aware consumers and shareholders concerned about the dangers of ignoring our impact on the planet.
Another important element that has been incorporated by socially responsible corporations is gender perspective. Reinforcing gender equality and activities towards women’s empowerment is crucial today. Extensive data has proven that diversity within the workplace is not only a necessary element for development and sustainability, it is also increases profits.
According to recent reports published by Credit Suisse, the greater diversity within business management, the higher returns in equity, price valuations and stock price performance. Furthermore, the McKinsey report has confirmed that companies that have become part of the top quartile in terms of gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to gain greater financial returns compared to the national industry average. Gender equality within businesses connects progress to profit.
Despite solid data on the importance of equality to profit potential, many companies still haven’t incorporated enough strategies to make women’s empowerment a priority in their agenda. Most businesses still rely on discreet programs and initiatives that have led to limited results. Efforts towards gender equality should be aligned and fully integrated into all areas of the corporation. Change requires joint efforts: CEO’s focused on C-Suite board diversity, Human Resources concentrated on hiring, recruiting and compensating based on gender-equality policies- a bottom-up strategy from the production floor and up to the boardroom.
If your company is ready to take the next step, identify the toughest challenges and common biases. According to a recent report by Credit Suisse, some of the most difficult cultural and workplace biases are the following:
1. Cultural biases and education issues. This bias is difficult to overcome in the short term. The good news is that corporate policies can help break cultural paradigms. An example is the inclusion of Paternal Leave, a benefit that has allowed a better representation of women in the workplace in countries that encourage it.
2. Workplace-related biases. Women face prejudice to become candidates for promotion, or to be considered for project leadership that involves relocation or traveling. Outdated female roles which are assumed by directors discriminate women, affecting the career and development plans of today’s female executives.
Nowadays, women want to take advantage of technology to work remotely or on flexible time schedules. This doesn’t mean they do not aspire to promotions and to steadily ascend the corporate ladder. As a matter of fact, the impracticality for women to manage face to face time in the office along with other caregiving tasks is a key reason for them to opt out of their job. Nevertheless, it is one of the reasons of the current increase in female-run start-ups and companies.
Gender equality in the corporate world is not an impossible feat; it is a challenge that it demands sustained, joint efforts. There is no shortcut towards equality. As International Women’s Day approaches, join me in the call-to-action towards greater equality. It is a fact that empowering women promotes long-term organizational growth and profit, thus meaning greater opportunities for everyone. Let’s press for progress, this is the right time.
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.