An Experience to Remember: Our First Training on Gender and WEPs

In the vibrant city of New Delhi, amidst the hustle and bustle, I had the honor of conducting my first training on gender equality and the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) alongside two incredible women—Ms. Suman Singh and Ms. Subha Kawatra from the UN Global Compact Network India (UN GCNI). This training was organized for the Women Empowerment and Diversity Committee of Gujarat Fluorochemicals Limited.

From the moment we stepped into the training room, I could sense a palpable energy. The participants, a diverse mix of professionals, were brimming with enthusiasm. Their intent was clear: to learn, to inspire, and to implement real changes that would foster a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in their respective departments and promote gender equality in their organization policies and procedures.

One of the most striking aspects of the training was the participants’ eagerness to absorb and engage with the content. As we delved into the principles of gender equality, the room buzzed with thoughtful questions and lively discussions. The Women’s Empowerment Principles provided a robust framework, but it was the participants’ willingness to adapt and apply these principles in innovative ways that truly brought the session to life.

The Tools for Transformative Change

One of the most fascinating aspects of the training was exploring the practical tools provided by the WEPs, which equip companies to assess and enhance their gender equality efforts. These tools are essential for organizations committed to making a real difference.

  1. Gender Gap Analysis Tool: This powerful resource helps companies evaluate their existing policies and programs. It identifies opportunities and strengths, guiding companies to develop a comprehensive Gender Action Plan with clear, time-bound targets. This tool translates commitment into actionable steps, providing a reference point to track progress and drive continuous improvement.
  2. Diagnosis for Equal Remuneration Tool: This tool supports companies in ensuring they uphold the “Equal Pay for Equal Value” principle, in line with ILO Convention No. 100. By assessing their remuneration practices, companies can identify gaps and take steps to ensure fair and equitable pay for all employees.
  3. Gender Responsive Procurement Assessment Tool: This tool evaluates a company’s procurement policies and practices from a gender perspective. It helps organizations analyze and improve their procurement processes, ensuring they are inclusive and supportive of gender equality.

These tools were not just theoretical concepts during our training; they were the keys to unlocking real, sustainable change. Participants eagerly engaged with these tools, understanding that they could transform their commitment to gender equality into measurable actions. This hands-on approach empowered everyone in the room to envision and implement strategies that would lead to a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

A Vision for Empowerment

The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) were launched in 2010 jointly by the UN Global Compact and UN Women. WEPs provide a holistic framework and guidance for companies to accelerate gender equality and women empowerment within their business operations. The WEPs envision the private sector playing an integral part in bridging the gender gap and advancing the 2030 agenda. Today, a total of 9,500 companies are WEPs signatories, with the highest level of the company showing commitment to empowering women across the workplace, marketplace, and community.

“Companies that invest in women and support women’s leadership and decision making, and commit to gender equality typically outperform their competitors. The Women Empowerment Principles offer a great platform for change,” says Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, at the WEPs Forum in 2018. The WEPs bring immense value to businesses by increasing and boosting their brand image and reputation among stakeholders, highlighting their commitment to improving workplaces for women and people from diverse backgrounds. It also helps in increasing innovation, resilience, and productivity within the supply chain. WEPs play a significant role in bringing different parts of the organization together, fostering a common organizational culture, and evoking a sense of pride among employees.

As we concluded the training, I felt a profound sense of fulfilment. The experience reaffirmed my belief in the power of collective effort and the importance of fostering an environment where everyone can thrive. The Diversity and Women Empowerment Committee is now equipped with the knowledge and passion to drive meaningful change, and I am excited to see the impact they will make. This training was just the beginning. The journey towards gender equality and women’s Empowerment is an ongoing journey that requires the dedication and collaboration of many. With the unwavering support of leaders from UNGCNI and the commitment of Indian businesses to gender equality, I am confident that we are on the right path.

WEPs and UN GCNI

By adopting WEPs and developing gender action plans, businesses contribute to societal equity while enhancing organizational performance and innovation, reflecting a commitment to sustainable development goals. Implementing WEPs offers numerous benefits:

  • Building a strong economy: Increasing women’s participation in the workforce can drive economic growth.
  • Improving community quality: Effective community-led or CSR initiatives can uplift women and communities.
  • Breaking barriers and stereotypes: Encouraging women to enter non-traditional workspaces helps dismantle gender discrimination.
  • Enhancing ESG performance: Businesses can gain a competitive advantage by improving their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics through WEPs.

While many organizations are working towards gender equality and have committed to gender equality targets, what sets UN Global Compact Network India (UNGCNI) apart is its deep, actionable support for Indian businesses. UNGCNI plays a pivotal role in this effort by actively assisting companies in implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). Through targeted initiatives, UNGCNI provides strategic guidance and capacity-building through tailored training sessions. These sessions are designed to empower corporate committees, employee resource groups, and management teams with the necessary tools and knowledge to foster gender equality. Additionally, UNGCNI facilitates the development of Gender Action Plans and tools, offering comprehensive assistance to companies in identifying gaps and implementing strategies to promote gender balance and inclusivity. This hands-on, localized approach ensures that Indian businesses are not just setting targets but are equipped with the resources and support needed to achieve tangible results in gender equality.

Reflecting on this experience, I am reminded of the words of Malala Yousafzai: “We cannot all succeed when half of us is held back.” The training on gender and WEPs was a testament to the power of education, collaboration, and shared vision. It was a moment of connection, inspiration, and, most importantly, a step towards a more equitable future for all.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Subha Kawatra for their invaluable assistance and contributions to this blog.