Sustainability Within Reach
Thoughts and observations on sustainability

SDG 5 – Gender Equality

Sustainability Within Reach LLC supports the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define global sustainable development priorities and aspirations for 2030 and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of goals and targets. The SDGs call for worldwide action among governments, business and civil society to end poverty and create a life of dignity and opportunity for all, within the boundaries of the planet.”

Here is SDG Goal 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
  • Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences
  • Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
  • Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels

Examples of companies working to achieve gender equality goals include Sodexo, ANZ Bank, and CLP Holdings. 

Sodexo is a French food services and facilities management company with 420,000 employees over 80 countries. In its Fiscal 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report, Sodexo states that

“…the company is fully committed to contributing to the achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations in September 2015.”

Gender equality is listed as one of its top priorities for which it has received external recognition for its female representation in its governing bodies.

Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) is a major bank in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. In its Corporate Sustainability Report 2016, ANZ set goals for achieving gender equality in its operations from new hires, to board representation, and the supply chain.

ANZ supply chain initiatives

CLP Holdings Limited is a publicly traded company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that provides electricity. This includes power generation, high voltage transmission, local distribution, and gas and electricity retail services in China, India, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Taiwan. In its 2016 Sustainability Report, CLP acknowledges the importance of gender diversity from both a social and economic perspective.

“The most significant and common issue we face as a Group, is gender diversity. Demographic trends confirm the business case for this; and as gender equality is embedded in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights and in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the social and economic case for making it a priority is equally strong.

The company also explains the challenges that it is encountering to create gender equality in its operations.

“However, we face some challenges in increasing the proportion of female employees, from the current figure of 23.6%. The nature of our business requires a high percentage of the workforce to have technical and engineering skills. However, there are supply constraints due to the global shortage of females studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at school and university. We also face cultural constraints in places like India, which has a relatively low female workforce participation rate. “

CLP discusses its approach to improve its gender equality.

“Given this context, we have decided to focus our efforts on three priorities to improve our gender diversity. These priorities have been chosen because they reflect our business needs, align with the UN SDGs, and support the social and economic empowerment of women. First, we aim to increase the number of women in leadership positions in CLP. Second, we strive to increase the number of female engineers we employ by supporting initiatives that encourage girls to study engineering in schools and attracting female graduates to join the company. The third priority is to ensure gender pay equity. A range of initiatives were undertaken in 2016.”

The next blog will highlight organizations contributing to achieving SDG 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.