The Gender Lottery – Introduction to March Issue

By Karen Morris
Board Member, The Global Sourcing Council; Chair, GSC Women’s Empowerment Committee

At the GSC, we have heard our community’s and readers’ opinion that issues pertaining to women’s empowerment deserve our heightened consideration and the exchange of informed and varied perspectives. This is why our Board has formed the GSC Women’s Empowerment Committee and devotes this issue to describing several important initiatives that empower and improve the conditions of women around the world.

What can an XY chromosome buy?

Well, it depends. A gene on the Y chromosome is a fluctuating currency. It depends where the lottery of gender is played out alongside the lottery of birthplace. Purchasing power may also be a question of whom. And it depends when, in times of economic strife or worse, violent conflict, the vulnerability of one gender is exacerbated. In 2014, nonetheless, chromosomes still buy boys a better chance. In the extreme, it’s the chance of life over death. Along the spectrum, it might be the chance of education, the greater odds of being safe and well, of enjoying independence and self-determination, of making it, in the current vernacular, to the C Suite.

Gender is not always the sole determinant of these things but we cannot say it is never so because too, too often it simply is.

The power that rules many, even most, things in our world
is not distributed equitably by gender, not even close.

The discomforting truth is that gender influences or stipulates boys’ and girls’ respective opportunities and choices. This is true to some degree everywhere and in much of the world to a staggering and sobering degree. Expressed statistically the range and extent of women’s and girls’ inequality are intellectually staggering. (See Table 1)

We ask how is this socially tolerable?  Expressed as the narrative of individual women’s and girls’ experiences, the impact is visceral. We ask our conscience how is this morally tolerable?

Is this immediately relevant to global sourcing? By numbers alone, gender equity concerns half our world; our connected, interdependent world, so it’s irrefutably relevant to us all.

At the GSC, our council’s concern with sustainable, socially-conscious practices in sourcing inexorably directs our conversation towards themes such as education, access to economic participation and individual, institutional and commercial accountability. This conversation cannot and should not be dislocated from the sustainable future of one in two human beings on this earth and their human rights.

Our sourcing-oriented conversations, if we are to be purposeful, must be inclusive of a heterogeneous even heterodox mix of philosophies and perspectives. At the GSC, diversity is how we roll.

Our GSC members exchange vibrant and varied views on the politics and policy of sourcing; whatever our respective positions, our joint discourse weaves through a complex fabric of related themes: economics, politics, society and sustainability, equity and accountability, access and inclusion. When someone says the GSC is concerned with technology, they are right; if you ask of our interest in the evolution of how, where and by whom work gets accomplished, you cleave to our intent. Do we care about what human creativity, competition fairly practiced, innovation and creativity can cause? Yes, you joined the right conversation – a conversation that cannot claim legitimacy if it does not voice the rights and needs of women.

In this edition, we feature the following commendable enterprises that each illustrate innovative approaches to reducing gender inequities:

The Girl Effect: A program supported by the Nike Foundation in collaboration with other organizations that targets vulnerable adolescent girls in the developing world by using funding, awareness and volunteer work to address and uproot the stem of poverty and inequality.

Women on Wings: A Dutch organization co-founded in by Ellen Tacoma and Maria van der Heijden with the mission of creating one million jobs for the women in rural India.

The Tata Consulting Services – General Electric BPO Center in Saudi Arabia: The establishment of the world’s first business processing outsourcing center staffed entirely by and creating jobs for 3,000 women in Riyadh.

SEED:  Founded by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development which supports grassroots social and environmental entrepreneurship, in developing countries, so far predominantly in Africa, by means of its award scheme.

We invite all interested GSC members to lend their voice and vision to the critical theme of women’s empowerment and its social – economic – political interplay with global sourcing. Please contact me with your comments at: karen.morris@gscouncil.org.Gender Lottery Stats Chart

Editor’s Note: Universal Truths

By: JoDeen Urban, Editor In Chief, The Source

March is a momentous month during which women are celebrated around the world in various ways. Many countries observe “Women’s History Month”, “Women’s Empowerment Month” or “International Women’s Day” (recognized on March 8th by 27 countries). Rallies are held, seminars, symposia and special events attended, and men are asked to honor their mothers, wives, sisters, extended family members, girlfriends and colleagues.

This recognition is important. In one way, it reminds those who have “awareness” of the common human elements shared by the sexes. It also underscores that these days of celebration and activism should not be viewed similarly to “Mother’s Day”; that critical gaps in gender equity around the world still necessitates a calendar event to spur us to continue working towards removing barriers to equality. For those that are unaware or in opposition, it serves to bring to their consciousness that many within the global community continue to fight for the irrefutable rights of humane, fair and equal treatment of women.

Self-determination, and by extension gender equality and gender equity, is a basic human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDH)  http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948 represents the first global expression of the inherently entitled rights of all human beings. This declaration and sister declarations and covenants led to the 1966 passage of the International Bill of Human Rights which is now part of international law. Yet, here we are in 2014 with much work still to be done.

“The fastest way to change society is to
mobilize the women of the world.” – Charles Habib Malik

Legendary statesman, philosopher, theologian and academic, Charles Malik, rose from Lebanon to global prominence as one of the drafters of the UNDH and served as President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1958-59, amongst multiple other esteemed positions. He stated what needed to be done simply and unequivocally: “The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.”

Empowerment for all mankind is essential to our survival. Sustainability demands it. Women’s potential and continued contributions are as vital a component to the achievement of this as lifeblood.

In this issue we refer often to the United Nations Global Compact. Its vision of a sustainable and inclusive global economy is supported by defined, accountable ways to achieve lasting benefits for people, communities and markets. http://www.unglobalcompact.org/.

One of its initiatives has a direct impact on sourcing – The Women’s Empowerment Principles’ CEO Statement of Support. The Principles emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and are informed by actual business practices and input gathered from across the globe. The CEO Statement encourages business leaders to use the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles as guide posts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, and communicate progress through the use of sex-disaggregated data and other benchmarks. Signers underscore that equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do – it is also good for business and needs to be a priority. To learn more or to sign a statement of support: http://www.unglobalcompact.org/issues/human_rights/equality_means_business.html

Critical thinking and critical mass will eventually change global empowerment dynamics and create universally equitable societies. One key is to stay the course and persevere. As Ayn Rand said: “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

We welcome contributors to this publication. Please share your insight and opinions at contactGSC@gscouncil.org, or contact me directly at jodeen@gscouncil.org.

JoDeen Urban
Editor In Chief

JoDeen is an independent management consultant working with established companies as well as start-ups on strategy, organizational capability and business model innovation.

 

“The Girl Effect”: Empowering Girls in the Developing World

By: Selene Lawrence
GRI Data Partner Report Analyst, Governance & Accountability Institute

In 2008, the Nike Foundation channeled their foundation’s experience in the developing world to take part in a new empowerment and education initiative called “The Girl Effect”. The project was created in partnership between Nike and the NoVo Foundation, which searches for sustainable, bottom-up approaches to promote social and economic development. It is co-chaired by Jennifer and Peter Buffet, as well as the United Nations Foundation and Coalition for Adolescent Girls.

The Girl Effect targets vulnerable adolescent girls in the developing world by using funding, awareness and volunteer work to address and uproot the stem of poverty and inequality. The Girl Effect focuses on education, healthcare, and policy to change the lives of millions of young girls threatened by adolescent pregnancy and the debilitating effects poverty. The approach is multi-faceted; the initiative operates by reaching out to NGO’s, volunteers, policy makers, donors and community activists to spread awareness and attract the necessary partners they need to make a difference.

Monetary donations to The Girl Effect from corporations or individuals can be designated to a variety of projects that they either support or have created. To encourage donations the foundation suggests: “Send a girl to school”, “Help her fight a legal case”, “Give her a microloan” or “Start the Girl Effect”. The organization has protocols in place to start the process.

The Nike Foundation’s projects are impressive in their range of approaches. Examples of their twelve innovative, girl-focused projects include programs for Uganda’s adolescent girls which a US$ 30 donation provides 3 washable feminine hygiene kits that girls can utilize for up to 3 years, and a US$ 50 donation provides 250 health and education manuals to girls participating in Teen Girls Workshops throughout the year.

In Zimbabwe, US$ 60 will provide 10 orphaned girls training about their legal rights. In Cambodia, a program has been established that empowers girls rescued from sex slavery where a range of donation levels gives girls their own jewelry making kit to provide income and the capital to provide medical examinations. A US$ 140 dollar donation covers tuition, housing, and medical care for two months.

The Teen Mother Empowerment Program in Cameroon will use a US$ 100 donation to cover the materials and logistics for one group of teen mothers to obtain a microloan. Not only are young girls extremely vulnerable, but they also represent the future and their programs in early education, such as providing pre-schooling for girls’ children in Ghana, foster awareness and education at an early age.

These examples are just a fraction of their donation-based programs which are extremely impressive in the scale, variety and organization of programs that are at the forefront in tackling girls’ issues in the developing world.

Although The Girl Effect is Nike’s biggest initiative with the widest array of partners and networks, the Nike Foundation also created “Girl Hub” in collaboration with the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) in 2010. Girl Hub actively engage adolescents in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda in encouraging participation in family planning, outreach, and resource planning. This work, along with The Girl Effect is setting-up the empowerment of young girls on a local level with the resources essential for development.

Through Girl Hub they have created a radio-drama program in Ethiopia called Yenga (ours). The broadcast has a program with characters that reflect the lives of so many of its listeners, young girls dealing with and overcoming violence, teenage marriage and pregnancy, staying in school etc. Immediately following Yenga is a talk show that hosts recognized journalists and artists who address the issues presented in the drama. This is an exciting, actively engaging way for young, isolated and impoverished girls to gain confidence and foster independent ideas.

Yenga has produced a music video for a song in the show called “Abet”, which translated means: We Are Here. This video has been viewed 500,000 times in Ethiopia, which The Girl Effect proudly states is the fifth most watched video in the country. Permeating the minds of young girls as well as providing the resources and outlets to gain resources is the spark towards change.

In 2013 The Girl Effect produced the official “Girl Declaration” in collaboration with the development organizations with whom they partner. This declaration incorporated the input of 508 impoverished girl voices from around the world. The declaration has goals, targets, and principles as well as individual stories that map out the goals of The Girl Effect and provide a framework for The United Nations and other organizations to address the problem. UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon publicly backed the declaration stating: “To achieve meaningful results, we need fresh solutions to girls’ education challenges and we must heed the voices of young people.” The Girl Declaration has demanded and received attention from the political world to aid the change that the Nike Foundation and their global partners seek to achieve.

In October 2013 The Girl Effect, as well as multiple foundations that work alongside Nike, promoted the second annual International Day of the Girl (IDG). This special event emphasized the continued need for prioritizing young girls in the development agenda.

Targeting communities and individuals though education, culturally relevant and engaging economic initiatives has been the breakthrough in modern sustainable development theory, and Nike has used their advantages to make headway in the field. Nike is putting young girls as a priority on the path towards a healthier and independent sustainable global community.

About the Author: Selene Lawrence is a GRI Data Partner Report Analyst at Governance & Accountability Institute (the exclusive GRI data partner in the US, UK, and Ireland).  While analyzing Nike’s sustainable business report, a GRI-G3 Application Level B report, she came across this wonderful program. She is also an Undergraduate student at Hunter College, City University of New York, and expects to graduate in Fall 2014. Selene is using her experience at Governance & Accountability Institute to gain insight in applying sustainability to the corporate world and improving transparency.

Visit http://www.girleffect.org/ to explore their programs, watch videos and find ways to get involved.

Watch “Abet” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjqCEZO04yc

Governance & Accountability Institute

The G&A Institute is the exclusive GRI Data Partner in the United States of America. In this role it is our responsibility to monitor, collect and analyze every Sustainability report issued by US entities. This includes GRI-compliant, GRI-Referenced, and Non-GRI reports, in various formats – print and digital.

In 2013 we analyzed over 600 US Sustainability reports from a wide range of sectors, and covering an even wider range of stakeholders, issues, and data. No other consulting organization has the depth and breadth of knowledge related to U.S. corporate sustainability & responsibility reporting. Analyzing this many reports has enabled us to structure many unique resources for our clients.

Citing the quality of our work, GRI now demonstrates our systems and methods as a model for data partners around the world (in other geographic areas).  In 2012 the Institute was given the honor of being invited to be the sole data partner for the United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland in addition to continuing our duties in the USA.

Please visit us to learn more about G&A Institute:  http://www.ga-institute.com

New Beginnings and Prosperity: Women on Wings

By: Ronald van het Hof
Managing Director, Women on Wings India

Women on Wings is a social enterprise, founded in The Netherlands, that advises Indian social entrepreneurs that employ women in rural India and have opportunities for growth. Women on Wings’ core objective: creating 1 million jobs for women in rural India by 2018.

The idea for Women on Wings arose in 2007. Following several trips to India by Maria van der Heijden and Ellen Tacoma, self-employed entrepreneurs in management and marketing communication, the two women wanted to make a personal contribution to sustainable entrepreneurship in India.

 “We link women’s strengths with knowledge of all parts of the value chain
from production to sales.”
Maria van der Heijden

Driven by compassion, they chose to focus on ways to develop businesses in rural India and to source more employment for women. The Indian underclass – around 700 to 800 million people – still lives on barely two dollars a day. There is very little work, especially in rural areas. Families lack their own income and depend on others for their survival. By the end of 2013 the number of jobs created by Women on Wings totaled 101,250. “With an annual doubling of the number of women, we will realise over 1 million jobs for Indian women by 2018” say Van der Heijden and Tacoma.

We are achieving this goal by making knowledge available to existing Indian social businesses to accelerate their growth (pro-bono business consultancy) and by developing new businesses in partnerships. This creates employment for women in rural areas. A job means income for these women, economic autonomy and an escape from the cycle of poverty. Their children can go to school and thereby increase their chances of a better future.

“Human capital is the core of what we provide”. – Ellen Tacoma

More often than not there are ample business opportunities, but the area lacks expertise.  Women on Wings provides focused expertise – Dutch experts attach themselves temporarily to an Indian social enterprise and work together to find fitting and realistic business models. These experts provide their time – in the Netherlands and in India – on a voluntary basis. The overall effort is supported by a team of more than fifty experts. The expertise ranges from: retail and logistics, management and organization, HR and finance. This gives Women on Wings a large pool of human capital that we can link up to social enterprises in India.

Our work includes active partnerships with large companies such as AkzoNobel and Rabobank.

Corporate Social Responsibility

All three components of People, Planet and Profit can be seen in the work carried out by Women on Wings, with an emphasis on people and profit in the form of an income for enterprising women in rural India.

Women on Wings follow the international OECD Guidelines for responsible business practices. We also ensure that the women are selected for their specific skills; the women’s background and religion are not of interest. Some customers focus specifically on disadvantaged groups. 

People, Planet, Profit

In 2009, the organization drew up basic principles for its own policy on corporate social responsibility which includes consideration of:

Payment: We work with organizations that pay a fair price for the work.

Working hours: The majority of women who work for Women on Wings’ customers are not paid a salary, but are paid per item or assignment. Women often combine the paid work with their housework and looking after children. Working hours are not fixed, but are determined by the women themselves.

Child labor: Women on Wings works with organizations that hire women aged 16 years and older.

Footprint: An important component of our philosophy is the footprint left by Women on Wings – how sustainable is our business management? Do we make responsible purchasing decisions? And how do we, for example, compensate the many air miles we clock up in our trips to India and The Netherlands?

Accountability and monitoring: The process related to the detailed accountability and monitoring of the working conditions and environmental impact of activities is a work in progress. For example: this could be done through case descriptions and stories from our customers and our experts, and using organized accountability tools tailored to companies similar in size to Women on Wings (examples include the “social evaluator” and the BSCI methods).

Strengthening Our Activities in India

In 2013 a Women on Wings office was established in Delhi. This permanent base in India makes it possible to respond to partners’ questions quickly and effectively. As Ellen Tacoma has remarked: “After all, if you’re close at hand, it’s easy to make an appointment.”

Women on Wings is now able to respond much faster from its Indian office. Closer and more frequent contact enables us to expand our current partner base more rapidly, build on existing relationships and also add new partners and relationships more quickly.

Our team of 3 Indian consultants creates new business leads for Women on Wings and maintains contacts with relevant stakeholders.

Building Prosperity

Before we start working with a new business partner we need to get a clear picture of its culture and way of working, ensuring that they fit the mission and vision of Women on Wings. We then analyze the organization’s product portfolio, structure, as well as the management and operating style. Once we choose to work with this organization we then form a strategy together with them to ensure the success of the cooperation. In the next phase, we support the organization based on the defined strategy in order to link our knowledge and to create an impact that is sustainable. We have long-lasting and successful partnerships with Indian social enterprises such as Fabric Plus, Rangsutra, Jaipur Rugs and Jharcraft.

Our funding partners are companies and/or corporate or private funds/financiers who commit themselves to Women on Wings for at least three years. Together we develop business programs that aim at the sustainable development of jobs for women in rural India combined with the objectives of the funding partner.

One Program in the Spotlight

Sanitary Pads: In partnership with Aakar, SSP/SURE and Foundation Charity Fund Rijsholt we work on a sanitary pads program. This program focuses on raising awareness about the health issues associated with menstrual hygiene and the startup of sustainable enterprises in the production and sales of sanitary pads by women in rural India. Aakar provides the necessary machinery and raw materials and trains women to operate the machines. SSP/SURE is responsible for production, marketing and sales and draws on its network of 1,000 female entrepreneurs in the districts of Latur and Osmanabad. Stichting Charity Fund Rijsholt is the program’s financial backer.

A team of Women on Wings experts worked with the team members of SSP/SURE and Aakar Innovations to improve the production set up, develop an awareness and marketing plan, and create a picture book and training manual on menstrual hygiene and the use of pads.

Menstruation is stigmatized and contributes to gender inequalities in rural Indian society. In rural India, roughly one in two girls believes menstruation is a disease. The majority of adolescent girls know very little about menstruation and how to deal with it. During their period, girls stay at home instead of going to school and often drop out permanently. Sanitary pads are largely unavailable. Instead, women and girls are forced to use unhygienic cloths that can lead to disease and even death.

Since November 2013, Shanta Gevali, one of the entrepreneurs of SSP/SURE, manages the business unit in Tuljapur. She runs her business with 10 women and currently they produce 1,500 pads per day. Shanta has tremendous faith in the capacity of women to run successful businesses: “It’s not important how high you can fly in the sky, but what matters is with how many others can you fly”. Shanta believes that a woman can prove that she can play the roles of creator, feeder and survivor on this earth, if only she gets the freedom to think.

Trust and Focus on One Country

It makes me very happy that Women on Wings plays not only a role in hands-on support for social enterprises to create growth but also actively introduces organizations to each other. That could vary from buying Eri yarn for weaving, Tasar silk for embroidery, natural dyes for an environmental friendly dying process, capacity in knotting rugs or linking producer groups to those who have good access to the market. Simple connections within our network of business partners in which trust plays an important role.

We work in different states in India which has allowed us to build a great network of partners. All these connections support growth of the business and work for women in rural India!

About the Author: Ronald van het Hof has broad retail experience in design, sourcing, sales, supply chain management, multi-channel management and change management. He has worked as CEO for different leading retail chains in The Netherlands and has received several retail awards. He has been working for Women on Wings as an expert-volunteer for 5 years and has supported many Indian social enterprises in their growth. Ronald is a Dutch national and currently lives in Gurgaon, India.

Shifting Sands in Saudi Arabia

By: JoDeen Urban
Editor In Chief, The Source

Historic news was made on September 24, 2013 when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that it was opening the world’s first business processing outsourcing center staffed entirely by women in Riyadh. The initiative is led by Tata Consulting Services (TCS) in partnership with General Electric (GE) and Saudi Aramco. Both TCS and GE are stakeholders in the new venture holding 76% and 24% equity respectively. Initially services will be provided to GE and Saudi Aramco as anchor clients. Eventually the customer base will be expanded to other companies and institutions across the Kingdom.

The new center is scheduled to open during the second quarter of 2014 with 400 women. The three partners will eventually scale employment up to 3,000 Saudi women with GE being responsible for creating 1,000 of these jobs.

It will serve as an important building block for the Kingdom’s development of local industry and the creation of skilled jobs for female graduates in finance, accounting, HR, IT, and supply chain management services. In due course, it is anticipated that TCS and GE will collaborate with Saudi universities and educational institutions to launch specialized training programs to support further job creation goals.

Let there be no mistaking progress –
The Tata-Saudi Arabia contract is groundbreaking.

Some regional commentators have criticized elements of this initiative, noting that these jobs are largely back-office as plans do not include call center operator functions (where male callers would be speaking with a female operator), in effect aiding the continued practice of shielding women from gender-integrated environments. This perspective should not, however, diminish the importance of this step. It was only in 2012 that female staff were permitted, for the first time, to work as cashiers in grocery stores and women’s clothing stores replacing previously all-male employees despite fierce opposition from some Saudi clerics.

These changes are culturally revolutionary. By contrast, the United States (founded in 1776) is this year marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which outlawed various forms of employment discrimination – legislation which did not originally include women. Gender bias was only included as a last-ditch effort by opponents of the original bill who had hoped that its inclusion would cause non-passage of the entire bill by Congress. When, against the odds, the bill was passed it took over 20 years for the anti-discrimination provisions to be legally enforced on behalf of women.

Another example: it took 64 years until 1984 for the State of Mississippi to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was passed in 1920. This amendment granted women the right to vote and was first introduced in 1878; it took 42 years to become federal law and 106 years for Mississippi to formally accept at the state level. Let there be no mistaking progress – the Tata-Saudi Arabia contract is groundbreaking.

Change, especially lasting cultural change, requires a series of building-blocks. Creating solid ground and sustainability takes time; as history has demonstrated, lots of time. Press commentators in the Middle East noted that the Tata-Saudi Arabia initiative was announced a week after SAS Holdings (a $2.7Bn U.S. parented IT software and services company) purchased a 51% stakeholding in Glowork for $16 million. Glowork, a Saudi company founded in 2011, is an online platform that connects Saudi women to part-time and full-time jobs, with its primary client being the Saudi Ministry of Labor. Glowork aims to create jobs in rural areas providing work-at-home opportunities for women.

All of these recent developments in Saudi Arabia should be viewed as critical, connective steps on the road to empowerment and equality.

About the Author: JoDeen is an independent management consultant working with established companies as well as start-ups on strategy, organizational capability and business model innovation. During the course of her career she has been actively involved in the Middle East.