Despite making up over half the population, the contribution of women to measured economic activity is far below its potential. So much so, the underutilization of the female labour force is estimated to result in GDP loss of up to 27% in some regions of the world (IMF).
What’s more, of the 865 million women worldwide who have the potential to contribute more fully to their respective economies, 812 million live in least developed and developing economies.
As the world strives to attain goals for sustained and inclusive global growth, business recognizes the necessity to address the gender gap in labour force participation as a matter of priority, not just to benefit economically but socially too.
The social motives of just and equitable treatment of girls and women and the argument for empowering them remain as valid as ever. Improving gender diversity in labour force participation can go a long way in advancing the attainment of the UN Global Goals, particularly toward gender equality and reduced inequalities.
Many governments have already adopted measures to try to reduce their gender gaps in employment ranging from legislation on discrimination, equality and sexual harassment, to taxation and benefit system reforms.
But governments must work in tandem with the private sector to step up efforts to engage women more fully in the workforce – particularly in leadership positions – and promote private and public sector efforts to address barriers to women’s career advancement such as discriminatory practices or persistent pay gaps.
ICC helps to promote pragmatic guidelines, such as the United Nations’ Women’s Empowerment Principles and to raise awareness of the need for women’s empowerment within the B20 process.
Contributing to these global efforts, World Business Women, an ICC staff-led initiative, also aims to bring the benefits of gender diversity and balance to the world business organization. WBW works to ensure that ICC’s internal policies, leadership and representative bodies better reflect the gender diversity of the business and professional world today.