Leading companies in India chart next steps to achieve gender equality goals

Date: Thursday, April 9, 2020

Author: Zoya Khanday

New Delhi, India – Representatives of 25 companies in India have discussed the next steps they can take to create more opportunities for women in private businesses, a main goal of UN Women’s work in Asia and the Pacific.

The company representatives gather for the roundtable. Photo: UN Women/Arachika Kapoor

The CEOs discussed The Next Decade of Action for UN Women’s global campaign Generation Equality during the March 5 roundtable held to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The event organizers -- UN Women India, European Union and Global Compact Network India -- applauded the 14 companies at the event that already had signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles, or WEPs. They are continuing to encourage the others to sign on.

UN Women and United Nations Global Compact jointly developed the WEPs to promote business practices that empower female workers. Signatories commit to take seven steps including giving women senior corporate posts and treating all workers fairly.

UN Women also works to promote women in the private sector through its WeEmpowerAsia programme, which is funded by the European Union. The programme involves India and six other Asian countries.

During the closed-door roundtable, the company representatives focused on ways in which products and services can be designed to meet the needs of female customers. They also exchanged ideas on how businesses can include these good practices in their supply chains involving businesses owned or managed by women.

In interviews with UN Women after the roundtable, company representatives echoed the unique role of the private sector in promoting United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Sarah Jane King, Country Communications Manager of IKEA, the international home furnishings company, said: “The reason gender equality is so important to us is that our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. And you can’t create a better everyday life for the many people -- whether that’s in our products, our services, or our store experiences -- unless you involve the many people in the design process. That means that we have to ensure that we are very inclusive.” 

“With men and women across the design process, we ensure that we can create products, services and solutions that everybody wants to be engaged with.”

“Infrastructure companies don’t have a lot of women workers,” said Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility, Communications, and Sustainability Officer at ReNew Power, a leading Indian renewable energy company.

“Our commitment to WEPs is our way of showing we want to take a lead in making ReNew a more inclusive workplace and also ensuring that we take the lead for other companies operating in this sector as well.” she said.

Both IKEA (globally) and ReNew Power are signatories to the WEPs. 

Before the roundtable, Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India, told the company representatives that the European Union gives priority to promoting gender equality.

“This is even more critical in 2020 as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action,” he said. “Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and economic growth.”

Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the European Union to India, speaks at the event. Photo: UN Women/Arachika Kapoor

Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Country Representative of UN Women India, said that women make or influence 85 per cent of buying decisions in India, and so they “need to be an intentional and not accidental focus of business strategy.”

“Women’s Empowerment Principles are not merely a set of principles but a guiding framework that binds us together towards the goal of Generation Equality,” she said.

Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Country Representative of UN Women India, speaks with the company representatives. Photo: UN Women/Arachika Kapoor

Kamal Singh, Executive Director of Global Compact Network India, said gender diversity is “imperative” for the country’s development. He said gender equality is not just about creating safe and inclusive workplaces for women but also the same environment in homes and society in general.

The company representatives discuss innovative ways to empower women in business. Photo: UN Women/Arachika Kapoor

 

At the March 5 event, company representatives sign their names to show support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles. Photos: UN Women/Arachika Kapoor

Roundtable Highlights:





Browse more photos from the event:

India Next Decade of Action CEOs Roundtable, March 5, 2020

Watch our interviews from the event:

Voices from Next Decade of Action CEOs Roundtable: Deepak Premnarayen, Chairperson, UN Women Business Advisory Council
Voices from Next Decade of Action CEOs Roundtable: Parul Soni, CEO, ThinkThrough Consulting
Voices from Next Decade of Action CEOs Roundtable: Eika Chaturvedi Banerjee, CEO, Future Learning
Voices from Next Decade of Action CEOs Roundtable: Priti Singh, Senior Vice President, Mastercard
Voices from Next Decade of Action CEOs Roundtable: Sarah Jane King, Country Communications Manager, IKEA
Voices from Next Decade of Action CEOs Roundtable: Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief CSR, Communications and Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power
 

 

For further information, please contact:

  • Noopur Jhunjhunwala, Monitoring
    Evaluation & Partnerships Lead UN Women Multi-Country Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka
    Email: noopur.jhunjhunwala@unwomen.org , Tel: +91 (0)11 46532735
  • Suhela Khan, Country Programme Manager
    WeEmpowerAsia, UN Women Multi-Country Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka
    Email: suhela.khan@unwomen.org , Tel: +91 (0)11 46532735