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United Nations Global Compact calls for Companies to set Ambitious Corporate Targets for Women’s Business Leadership with launch of new Target Gender Equality Initiative

NEW YORK — The United Nations Global Compact today launched Target Gender Equality, a new accelerator programme to mobilize and support companies in setting and meeting ambitious corporate targets for women’s representation and leadership in business.

Engaging UN Global Compact participants across the globe, Target Gender Equality will drive business action in support of Sustainable Development Goal 5.5, which calls for women’s full participation and equal opportunities for leadership, including in economic life, by 2030.

The programme builds on the UN Global Compact's work with UN Women to promote the Women's Empowerment Principles by helping participating companies set concrete targets and take action to advance women’s leadership in their organizations, starting with the Board and Executive Management levels where women continue to be critically underrepresented. Globally, less than 30% of senior management roles are held by women. In particular, men continue to dominate strategic management roles, including profit and loss functions, that tend to feed top leadership positions. Further, while research shows that a critical mass of 30% is necessary to fully reap the benefits of gender diversity on corporate boards, according to research by the International Labour Organization (ILO), globally, over 13% of boards do not have a single woman represented and the majority have low female representation.

“The economic gender gap is widening and will now take 257 years to close. Business must help reverse this trend and take bold action to advance gender equality. This is the moment to ensure that targets on women's participation are included as part of balanced scorecards and corporate strategies in all companies,” said Lise Kingo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.

According to a recent ILO study, when boardrooms are 30–39% women, enterprises are 18.5% more likely to have improved business outcomes. When boardrooms are gender-balanced, enterprises are 20% more likely to have improved business outcomes.

The Target Gender Equality programme will be rolled out in 20 countries this year in collaboration with Global Compact Local Networks. Participating companies will benefit from facilitated performance analysis, capacity building workshops, peer-to-peer learning and opportunities to engage in multi-stakeholder dialogue.