Beijing conference discusses how companies can narrow the gender gap in and outside the office

Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Authors: Liu Di and Liu Zhu

Beijing, China – Participants in a forum co-organized by UN Women have discussed ways for private companies to better integrate gender equality goals into their internal policies as well as their social outreach programmes. 

Nearly 150 private-sector leaders, entrepreneurs, civil society representatives and European Union and United Nations officials attended the 2020 International Conference on Gender Equality and Corporate Social Responsibility and WEPs Awards Ceremony in Beijing on 18 November.

UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia programme and the EU Delegation to China were the joint organizers.

WeEmpowerAsia, an EU-funded programme, supports women in business, partly by encouraging companies to sign on to its WEPs, or Women’s Empowerment Principles. Rockcheck Puji Foundation and Zhilian Zhaopin, two main private-sector partners working with UN Women on economic empowerment were the supporting organizations the conference.

Delegates attend the 18 November conference. Photo: UN Women/Yang Zhensong

Smriti Aryal, Head of UN Women China, called on companies to apply international standards to their gender equality policies.

“As employers of a large workforce, the positive impact you can make in narrowing the gender gap, whether it is by creating decent work opportunities, equal pay for equal work or releasing care burden from women, is tremendous,” she said. “Likewise, the potential that companies can create a next generation of women leaders as decision makers in business practice, is unprecedented.”

Conference delegates said corporate social responsibility programmes play a critical role in promoting gender equality in workplaces and in society.

Smriti Aryal, Head of UN Women China, opens the conference. Photo: UN Women/Yang Zhensong

Mu Hong, Director-General of the All-China Women’s Federation, told the conference that the Chinese Government’s newest National Program for Women’s Development will include the principles of “ensuring women's equal participation in the economy and enhancing women's economic empowerment”.

Mu Hong of the All-China Women’s Federation speaks at the conference. Photo: UN Women/Zhou Xiaowu

Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to China, told the conference about the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025. Its key objectives include closing gender gaps in the labour market; achieving equal participation across different sectors of the economy; and addressing the gender pay and pension gaps.

The EU’s Nicolas Chapuis speaks at the conference. Photo: UN Women/Zhou Xiaowu

During the event, UN Women held a special exhibition, She Bounces Back, that showcased the leadership of Chinese women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven female entrepreneurs described how they had overcome the pandemic’s challenges to their small and medium-sized companies.

Participants listen to the female entrepreneurs at the She Bounces Back exhibition. Photo: UN Women/Zhou Xiaowu

UN Women presented WEPs Awards to 10 business leaders who promoted gender equality. These were the first-ever such awards given in China by UN Women and is part of the inaugural regional WEPs Awards initiative launched this year. To date, 102 companies in China, including Zhilian Zhaopin, have signed on to the WEPs. More than 3,700 companies have done so globally.

The award recipients:

Leadership Commitment Award Category
Champion: Raymund Chao, PwC China
1st Runner-up: Yao Yao, ThoughtWorks Software Technologies (Beijing)
2nd Runner-up: Chen Hongshan, S&P Global (China) Ratings

Gender-inclusive Workplace Award Category
Champion: IKEA China
1st Runner-up: Dow Chemical (China) Investment
2nd Runner-up: North Valley Research

Community and Industry Engagement Award Category
Champion: China Textile Information Center
1st Runner-up: Yum China Holdings
2nd Runner-up: GoldenBee (Beijing) Management Consulting

COVID-19 Action Award Category
Champion: Handa Industries

China WEPs Awards winners pose with UN Women China staff members. Photo: UN Women/Wang Dongdong

Watch the full recording of the inaugural China WEPs Awards here.

For further information:

Liu Di
Programme Analyst, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women China
Tel: +86 10 8532 5174 | E-mail: di.liu@unwomen.org

About WeEmpowerAsia
WeEmpowerAsia is a UN Women programme funded by the European Union that seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. For more information, visit http://weempowerasia.org.