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Making the Business Case for Gender Equality

Gender parity is both an economic and a moral imperative. When development leaders gather in Chile this week, their goal must be to capitalize on the momentum of recent activism by and on behalf of women, and ensure that businesses understand that equality is good for the bottom line.

NEW YORK – Around the world, gender bias is attracting renewed attention. Through protest marches and viral social-media campaigns, women everywhere are demanding an end to sexual harassment, abuse, femicide, and inequality.

But, as successful as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been in raising public awareness, the struggle for parity is far from over. Empowering women and girls is key to achieving all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. At the moment, however, gender bias remains a significant obstacle to global progress, and it is particularly acute in the workplace.

Today, only 5% of S&P 500 companies are led by women, according to Catalyst, a non-profit CEO watchdog. That dismal figure is all the more remarkable when one considers that 73% of global firms allegedly have equal-opportunity policies in place, according to a survey by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Moreover, while research shows a clear link between a company’s gender balance and its financial health, women occupy fewer than 20% of governing board seats in the world’s largest companies.

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