Economic growth is more robust and sustainable when both women and men participate fully in the labor market. Yet across the world, women face persistent barriers in labor markets, as a result of discrimination and culturally entrenched ideas about gender roles. More than half of the women participating in the global labor force are engaged in the informal economy, rather than in salaried or wage work.
The Business Case for Women’s Employment
IFC works with client firms to identify opportunities and strategies to improve the workplace so both women and men can perform their jobs well. This makes good sense from a business performance perspective, as well as from a human perspective.
Companies that invest in women’s employment gain an important competitive advantage due to a wider talent pool, enhanced productivity and improved staff retention. Better jobs for women lead to higher income levels and greater decision-making influence. That has broader societal effects, increasing household spending on children’s nutrition, health and education.
The Gender Secretariat hosts WINvest, a World Bank Group partnership to promote women’s employment in the private sector. WINvest brings together IFC clients and private sector partners to share best practices, demonstrate the business case for women’s employment, and develop tools to drive change within companies.
The IFC-ILO Better Work program is focused on improving working conditions in the garment industry—a key employer for women in developing countries. The program supports factories with high standards of social responsibility that also sell to global brands through their supply chains. Bringing together local enterprises, retail buyers, governments, and workers’ and employers’ organizations, Better Work strives to improve labor standards and thereby promote competitiveness.
Wider Reform for Greater Development Impact
IFC works with clients and partners in the private sector to ensure that women-focused initiatives and reforms are part of wider employment efforts. This includes women’s entry into management, nomination to corporate boards, and training in financial skills.