The popular tv show Mad Men set in New York’s emerging advertizing industry of the 1960’s, underlines the challenges and difficulties women were faced with when entering the workplace at the time. Sexual harassment, being ignored by their leaders, and thick glass ceilings, just to mention a few. Since then, women have moved far in the workplace (at least in some countries).
Yet, in 2012 for performing the same work women still (statistically) receive lower salaries than male colleagues, both within the public and private sector. Women are absent from top management, leadership positions and boardrooms across the corporate world. Furthermore, issues such as sexual harassment, abuse and low wages are problems with a gender dimension to it.
In 2010 the UN Global Compact placed gender equality on the CSR agenda through the launch of the Women’s_Empowerment_Principles. These principles address the issue of gender equality in all areas of business, including leadership, supply chains and entrepreneurship in communities. The principles create awareness and give practical examples of what corporations can do to empower women’s role in the workplace. There is a huge potential for business to make a difference.
That said, it is not only the business community that bear the responsibility for correcting inequalities. There is a need for policies that promote women’s agency, opportunities and rights in the workplace. Policies that empower and enable the entire workforce, both men and women, to participate and contribute with their capacity.
This part of CSR is up to all of us, in the businesses and organisations we participate in daily. If the workplace of the 21st century was of the Mad Men, why not let the 22nd be of the Sane Men and Women?