Companies that fail to consider gender diversity are at risk of missing valuable insights, customers and revenue streams, according to a new study led by the 30% Club’s Strategy Best Practices Working Group.
The report, entitled Are you Missing Millions? The commercial imperative for putting a gender lens on your business was produced in collaboration with PwC, with support from WPP, and includes case studies from leading global organisations such as Diageo, GSK, HSBC, Mastercard, PwC, Unilever, and Vodafone. The study was intended to inspire and support businesses to understand the commercial benefit of considering gender within their enterprise.
By treating inclusivity as a business imperative, within areas such as sales or customer services, businesses can embrace diversity whilst benefiting from financial gains, the report claims. Other areas where organisations can benefit include strategy development, product and service design, marketing, customer experience and supply chains.
Vodafone, for instance, has found that 200 million women in emerging markets do not have access to a mobile. The telecommunications company aims to connect 50 million of these women by 2025 by redesigning its products and services and has already connected 20 million under these new formats.
Identifying under-represented audiences whilst focusing on diverse and inclusive character portrayals could generate 37% further brand impact, with 28% of high purchase intent, says Unilever. The consumer goods company also found that this would improve relevance, credibility, and enjoyability of its adverts for the millions of worldwide consumers.
Parallels with sustainability and climate
At HSBC, the Gender Lens Finance (GLF) was launched by the Global Banking and Markets business in 2019, aiming at embracing the empowerment of women into mainstream business lines and products. In March 2019, HSBC collaborated with World Bank to further raise awareness around the issue. The partnership focused on the significance of investing in rural women’s empowerment.
In addition, the Global Private Banking teams have also collaborated with AllBright, the network supporting women in business connect through funding and opportunities.
Gitanjali Sharma, HSBC Private Banking Relationship Manager, believes that her engagement with AllBright has allowed her to further become aware of the female entrepreneur landscape – understanding what businesswomen need and what support can be provided to help them achieve their goals.
Daniel Klier, co-Chair of the 30% Club’s Strategy Best Practices Working Group, and Chief of Staff to the CEO of Global Banking & Markets and Global Head of Sustainable Finance at HSBC, commented: “The report highlights how businesses are starting to incorporate a gender lens into business strategy, but more consistent actions are still required across organisations to fully realise the potential.”
Klier added: “There are clear parallels for gender diversity to how companies have been integrating the sustainability and climate agendas into their day-to-day activity more effectively over the past ten years. Through its extensive corporate support network around the world, the 30% Club is well-placed to bring together the best practices that can help companies accelerate progress.”
Diverse thinking makes good business sense
Whilst the 2017 study led by the Geena Davis Institute found that portrayal of women in advertising hasn’t improved in a decade, the British multinational beverages company Diageo claimed that supporting inclusion and diversity within the workplace was key to business success.
At PwC, the firm has recognised an opportunity to help female business owners and leaders connect, as many can feel isolated. To tackle the issue, the Big Four firm has created a forum, entitled “The Leadership Empowerment Action and Progression” (LEAP), for female leaders wishing to meet, share insights, and build relationships.
Brenda Trenowden CBE, global co-Chair of the 30% Club and its Strategy Best Practices Working Group, and Partner at PwC commented: “To keep driving progress, it is time for the 30% Club to extend its influence beyond representation and pay, and work with businesses to help them address the commercial benefits of gender diversity.
“Since its inception, the 30% Club has called for more diverse thinking in business because it makes good business sense. Our report shares the commercial imperative for putting a gender lens on all business activities and includes thought-provoking examples of the kinds of opportunities companies may have.
“Those who are slow to adopt this approach in the current climate of purpose-led organisations risk being left behind.”