Written by: on November 24, 2023
When businesses think about their future and what’s going to secure it, considerations typically include revenue, staff retention, stakeholder satisfaction, and improving operational and commercial models. Gender equality is unlikely to feature at the top of the list. But it should.
Businesses aren’t islands, they depend on networking and partnership. Gender equality is increasingly important, and increasingly cared about. And as well as the obvious ethical benefits, a more proactively inclusive approach can help businesses attract brand champions, advocates and influencers. Without it, you undermine innovation and dilute the benefits associated with diversity of opinion. Instead, your business could stand out for the wrong reasons – especially in more progressive industries and markets – stagnant, outdated, and at risk of being called out as such.
Across the supply chain, businesses increasingly expect companies to evidence a commitment to gender equality, with evidence of commitment to parity being built into procurement processes and contract renewals. Consumers are equally scrupulous. The groundswell of targeted support for small, independent and LGBTQ-owned businesses reflects a social consciousness about the credentials of the businesses people choose to support. Failing to prioritise diversifying your workforce and leadership can close off sources of revenue.
The reputational and revenue benefits are about long-term, as well as short-term, gains. Gender equality helps businesses stay relevant and in-tune in evolving modern markets. What’s more, diverse leadership creates a more well-rounded, robust well of personal and professional experience to draw on in response to evolving markets or sudden curveballs.
But do organisations understand the genuine business benefits of diversity? Above and beyond the obvious ethical implications?
We recently worked with our social value partner, InnovateHer, to investigate British businesses’ attitudes towards gender equality, and gain valuable insight into the reality of today’s landscape.
Our new report, ‘Gender equality x Corporate sustainability: A British business pulse-check’, found that only around half (57%) of the businesses we surveyed are aware of gender equality’s critical role for business resilience. It falls to as low as 25% in the education sector.
We uncovered more variation in what businesses across the UK are doing to support gender equality and their futures.
Byline: Kimi Brown, EDI lead, Don’t be ShyBack to news and views