Lead, Social Sustainability, Global Compact Network Canada
Every year on March 8th, workplaces around the world celebrate International Women’s Day by recognizing women within their workforce and demonstrating their commitment to advancing gender equality. This year’s theme in Canada, Women Inspiring Women, provides an opportunity for organizations to acknowledge the women who paved the way and those who continue to demonstrate leadership.
At Global Compact Network Canada, the Canadian chapter of the United Nations Global Compact, we believe that advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace is an integral component of corporate human rights and the foundation of resilient, agile, and competitive organizations.
We’ve worked with countless Canadian businesses that are committed to advancing women’s representation, but progress across the country remains slow. Systemic gender-based barriers prevent equity of opportunity, and organizational constraints related to capacity, resources, and know-how can be challenging to overcome.
One key action that business leaders can take today is signing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) — a framework for advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community. Another strong step is gathering baseline gender equality data to check the pulse of your organization. Completing the WEPs Gender Gap Analysis Tool will provide a concrete, data-driven assessment of your organization’s status and help identify opportunities for improvement. With this information in hand, your organization can develop an action plan with realistic but ambitious representation targets, supporting goals to strengthen inclusion, and appropriate accountability mechanisms and resources to deliver your plan.
It can be overwhelming to tackle systemic discrimination, but organizations that fail to work purposefully toward building principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion into the core of their operations and identity will be left behind. Every organization needs to begin somewhere, even if your first step is a small step.