Women are often disproportionately affected by adverse business practices and do not enjoy the same economic opportunities as men. Gender norms – the roles and expectations that society puts on people of different genders – are deeply embedded in many societies around the world. Women face many barriers to equality and economic empowerment . Some examples:
- Women are particularly vulnerable to harassment and violence in the workplace.
- Women are more likely to be discriminated in recruitment, training and career opportunities.
- Women are often paid lower wages than men for the same activities.
- Women are more often linked to precarious, informal or irregular employment.
- Women smallholder farmers are most impacted by companies taking over land due to women’s lack of ownership or control over land.
Each of these examples also have profound impact on business. When women suffer violence and harassment at the workplace this results in lower productivity levels and retention rates due to women not feeling safe or respected at work. When women face barriers to professional advancement, companies limit opportunities for product and process innovation. When women do not have access to family planning, lack adequate pre- and postnatal care (as well as general healthcare), or suffer from domestic or workplace violence, it is not surprising that some degree of productivity is lost and that high rates of absenteeism or turnover are observed. Both women themselves and business suffer from these impacts.