World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced in late 2014 a new private-sector partnership aimed at boosting job opportunities for more than 300,000 women over the next two years through IFC.
“Companies that develop and retain women employees will gain a huge competitive advantage. Increasing women’s economic participation and productivity can also be a game-changer in tackling poverty and boosting shared prosperity—our two corporate goals.”
Under the She Works partnership, 10 leading companies have pledged to implement measures to enhance women’s job opportunities—such as mentoring, flexible work arrangements, and leadership training to increase diversity in management. Participating companies are Belcorp, Care.com, The Coca-Cola Co., EY, Gap Inc., Intel Corp., Kuwait Energy, Odebrecht Group, Ooredoo Group, and Zulekha Hospitals.
Working with key partners, including the EDGE Certified Foundation, International Labour Organization (ILO), and the UN Global Compact, IFC will identify best practices and develop practical approaches companies can implement to improve gender equality in the workplace.
Despite evidence that women’s employment is vital to driving economic growth and development, women face persistent barriers in labor markets and are more concentrated in the informal economy—rather than in salaried or wage work. They farm smaller plots, work in less secure and lower-paying jobs, and in many countries face legal discrimination that prevents them from opening bank accounts, owning property, or working outside the home without a husband’s permission.
Nearly half of women’s productive potential globally is under-utilized or unutilized, compared with just over 22 percent for men, while some 865 million women worldwide are “not prepared” and/or “not enabled” to participate in the global economy—including 812 million in emerging and developing countries.
The IMF, meanwhile, estimates that having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5 percent in the United States, 9 percent in Japan, and 34 percent in Egypt. A Goldman Sachs study finds that narrowing the gender gap in employment could push per capita income in emerging markets up to 14 percent higher by 2020.
The private sector, which accounts for nine out of 10 jobs in developing countries, plays a critical role in creating better employment opportunities for women. Companies that invest in women’s employment gain a proven important competitive advantage by tapping a wider talent pool, enhancing productivity, and improving staff retention. She Works is part of IFC’s broader effort to help companies address gender gaps in employment, and thereby drive gains in productivity, competitiveness, and innovation.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in about 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. In FY14, IFC provided more than US$22 billion in financing to improve lives in developing countries and tackle the most urgent challenges of development.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.