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Closing gender gaps in the private sector benefits over 850,000 women

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  • It will currently take more than 169 years to close the global economic gender gap.
  • The World Economic Forum has supported 14 countries to convene Gender Parity Accelerators – national public-private collaboration platforms – that help close economic gender gaps.
  • The accelerators work with more than 95 public sector and 1,265 private sector partners to increase female labour force participation and advance equity in pay and leadership, reaching 867,318 women to date.

The impact of reducing the economic gender gap.

Gender inequality costs the world approximately $12 trillion in global gross domestic product (GDP), with some countries experiencing up to a 35% loss. With the cost of economic inequality so high we cannot wait the estimated 169 years it will take to close the economic gender gap, one of the four dimensions that has been measured by the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report since 2006. Progress in closing this gap has been further hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, compounding the impact on women in leadership and gender gaps in earnings.

The Forum has been working to speed up progress through the Gender Parity Accelerators, which have improved access to economic opportunities for 867,318 women through new laws and workplace policies that address workforce, pay and leadership gender gaps.

Accelerators are currently hosted by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama – all in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Japan.

Working with the private sector to close gender gaps.

Globally, the accelerators are working with 1,265 private sector partners to close gender gaps in their workforce and operations. For example, more than 180 companies in Chile have been engaged and collectively employ 130,000 local women – 7% of salaried private sector employees.

Companies enrolled in the three-year accelerator programme in Chile– such as Accenture, Cargill, IBM, Invest Chile, LatAm Airlines, Microsoft, Nestlé, PwC, SAP, Siemens and Unilever – have seen women’s workforce representation increase to 41%, almost 10 percentage points above the national average (31.7% in January 2019). They also reported a significant 37.5% decrease in the gender pay gap.

In Japan, the accelerator works with more than 300 companies from the Male Leaders Coalition for Women’s Empowerment to address their pay gaps as part of the government’s new pay transparency requirements. In Jordan, the accelerator works with the private sector to roll out sexual harassment policies and complaints procedures and improve access to legal avenues for victims following the country’s new anti-sexual harassment legislation.

Enacting national policies and legislation in support of gender equality.

Gender Parity Accelerators have also made gains in advancing and supporting national legislation closing gender gaps. The public-private collaboration model provides a platform for public-private consultation on new legislation and engages the private sector in their roll-out and implementation. The accelerators have been particularly critical to advancing national policies and programmes that enhance women’s access to economic opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past seven years of implementation in the region.

For example, the Ecuador Gender Parity Accelerator, implemented by the government in partnership with the Forum and the Inter-American Development Bank, will support the private sector to meet requirements set out in Ecuador’s recently passed Violet Economy Law, significantly expanding private sector duties and incentives to close workforce gender gaps in pay, leadership, parental leave and childcare.

In Panama, where legislative success includes rules on minimum representation of women on the boards of directors and equal pay, the accelerator’s cross-sector leadership group has been formalized as the National Council for Gender Parity through an executive decree; it will serve as an official mechanism to drive gender parity measures beyond the accelerator’s lifecycle.

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Equalizing caring responsibilities and women’s unpaid labour.

Several accelerator countries are addressing the unequal distribution of care responsibilities between women and men through national policies to aid greater social and economic gender equality. In Colombia, the accelerator’s cost-benefit analysis of expanding paternity leave led to the government introducing a two-week paternity leave allowance, one of the highest in the region – Ecuador and Peru offer 10 days, while Mexico, Brazil and Chile offer five.

As part of its action plan, Costa Rica introduced a national care policy that significantly expands its care system to cover pre-school children, the elderly and people with disabilities so parents and caregivers can better balance career and care responsibilities. The accelerator also supported a new care co-payment pilot where companies, families and the government share the cost of childcare.

The Forum’s new Global Future Council on the Future of the Care Economy will enhance accelerators’ work on care using experts to identify investments, incentives and partnerships to establish a well-functioning care economy while creating formal jobs, advancing social mobility and closing gender gaps.

Our approach to reaching gender parity.

In accelerator countries, CEOs and ministers collaborate on policies and initiatives to narrow their economic gender gaps, including by:

  • Promoting women in leadership.
  • Shrinking the gender pay gap.
  • Increasing women’s participation in the labour force.
  • Hardwiring gender parity into the future of work.

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024, the Forum is launching the Global Gender Parity Sprint to 2030, a public-private platform to drive six years of global acceleration to close gender gaps in economic participation and leadership, delivering economic transformation, innovation and growth. It will embed the work of the Gender Parity Accelerators as well as complementary gender parity work hosted by the Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society.

How can you get involved?

The Forum’s Gender Parity Accelerators are hosted within the Centre for the New Economy and Society. We aim to expand our global network of countries accelerating gender parity by 2025.

If you are a business in a member country, you can join its base and contribute to driving impact. As part of a local accelerator, you will assess and bridge gaps in your workforce.

If you are a business or government in a country where the Forum does not currently have a Gender Parity Accelerator, please contact us to explore setting one up.

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Future of WorkDavos AgendaGender InequalityFuture of WorkEconomic ProgressJobs and Skills
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