Beyond Compliance: How to Embed Gender Equality in Your Supply Chain Strategy
Gender equality is not just a legal requirement but also a moral imperative. However, achieving gender equality in supply chains is not an easy task. It requires companies to go beyond mere compliance with legal requirements and proactively address the underlying causes of gender discrimination and inequality in their supply chains. This article will explore how companies can embed gender equality in their supply chain strategy by discussing key steps that they can take to promote gender equality and create a more inclusive and equitable working environment.
Key Steps to Embed Gender Equality in Your Supply Chain Strategy
Gender discrimination and inequality are pervasive in supply chains. Women workers are often underpaid, overworked, and subject to gender-based violence and harassment. Moreover, gender-based discrimination often intersects with other forms of discrimination, such as race, ethnicity, or caste, leading to even more significant disparities in pay, opportunities, and working conditions. Addressing these complex issues requires a comprehensive and integrated approach that goes beyond legal compliance and addresses the underlying causes of gender inequality. Here are some key steps that companies can take to embed gender equality in their supply chain strategy:
- Conduct a gender impact assessment: A gender impact assessment evaluates the potential impact of your supply chain practices and policies on gender equality. This involves examining your procurement practices, supply chain operations, and stakeholder engagement to identify potential barriers or biases hindering progress towards gender equality. This assessment should identify opportunities to improve gender equality, such as increasing the participation of women-owned businesses, ensuring equal pay, and addressing gender-based violence and harassment. By conducting a gender impact assessment, companies can gain a better understanding of the specific challenges and needs faced by women and other marginalised groups in their supply chain and design targeted interventions to address these challenges.
- Integrate gender equality into your procurement practices: Integrating gender equality into your procurement practices is another essential step in embedding gender equality in your supply chain. This includes creating policies that ensure that your procurement practices are inclusive and equitable. These policies should be based on the findings of your gender impact assessment and outline clear guidelines for engaging with suppliers, setting targets for gender equality, and addressing gender-based discrimination. They should also provide guidance on how to ensure that women-owned businesses are given equal opportunities to compete for contracts. For example, According to a report by UN Women on sourcing from women-owned businesses, supplier diversity programs can increase the number of women-owned businesses in a company’s supply chain and provide opportunities for them to compete for contracts. This not only promotes gender equality but also contributes to the economic empowerment of women-owned businesses.
- Engage with your suppliers: Engaging with your suppliers is critical to achieving gender equality in your supply chain. This may involve providing training and support to your suppliers to help them improve their gender policies and practices or working with them to identify opportunities to increase the participation of women and other marginalised groups in their workforce. This engagement should be based on a collaborative approach that recognises each supplier’s unique needs and challenges and seeks to build their capacity to promote gender equality in their operations.
- Foster collaboration and partnerships: Building strong partnerships with other stakeholders in your supply chain, such as investors, customers and civil society organisations, can help create a more collaborative and inclusive approach to gender equality. By working together, you can leverage your collective influence to drive positive change. For example, you may partner with civil society organisations to provide training and support to your suppliers on gender equality or work with your customers to create demand for products and services that are produced in a gender-responsive way. Companies should also engage with industry associations and other stakeholders to share knowledge and best practices and advocate for policies that promote gender equality in the supply chain.
- Measure and report on progress: Measuring and reporting your progress towards gender equality is essential to track your performance and identify areas where you may need to adjust your approach. This will also help you communicate your progress to stakeholders, build trust, and demonstrate your commitment to gender equality. You should establish clear metrics and indicators to measure progress towards your gender equality goals and regularly report your progress to your stakeholders. This may involve publishing annual reports on your gender equality performance or engaging with your stakeholders through social media and other channels to share updates on your progress.
In conclusion, embedding gender equality in your supply chain strategy requires a long-term commitment and a holistic approach that goes beyond mere compliance with legal requirements. By conducting a gender impact assessment, integrating gender equality into your procurement practices, engaging with your suppliers, fostering collaboration and partnerships, and measuring and reporting your progress, you can promote gender equality and create a more inclusive and equitable working environment. Achieving gender equality in supply chains is not an easy task, but by taking these key steps, companies can make a positive difference and contribute to a more just and equal world.