Measurement area finding

Governance and strategy

This measurement area looks at a company’s overall commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment across its full value chain.

Company performance averages at 32%, with 31 companies (87%) taking some action. When comparing value chain elements, companies are displaying stronger efforts in the workplace (41% on average) than in the supply chain (39%).

This measurement area includes the following ten indicators:

1. Strategic action

There are 11 companies (31%) that have made a public commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, ten of which are signatories to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles. Fourteen companies (40%) have a gender strategy that goes beyond support for diversity and inclusion in their own operations, focusing on supply chain initiatives as well. Fewer companies have established specific, time-bound targets that go beyond increasing gender diversity in senior positions (20%) or have undertaken a gender audit and obtained a third-party certification for gender equality (20%).

2.  Senior leadership accountability

Ten companies (29%) have multiple individuals responsible for their diversity and inclusion or sustainability efforts, which includes gender, in the workplace and supply chain. However, only 3 companies (PVH, H&M and Walmart) have one person responsible for gender equality across the value chain.

In four companies (Gap, Kering, PVH, Ralph Lauren), gender equality and women’s empowerment issues are monitored by the board of directors.

3. Gender-responsive human rights due diligence process

Thirteen companies (37%) screen for one or more gender-related risks as part of their human rights due diligence process, with 9 companies (26%) assessing at least one of those risks to be salient. The most common gender-related risks screened for by companies are sexual harassment, discrimination based on marital or pregnancy status, and intimidation, harassment, retaliation or violence against trade union members and representatives. Seven companies (20%) consult with affected and potentially affected women in the workplace and supply chain, women’s organisations, women human rights defenders or other gender experts as part of the risk identification and assessment process.

4. Sex-disaggregated data

Fifteen companies (43%) annually report the gender balance of their workforce across at least three levels leaderships (e.g., board of directors, senior executives, senior management, middle/other management) and five companies (14%) share how many women employees participate in their professional development programmes annually.

Inditex is the only company that annually collects gender data on turnover rates as well as its global gender pay gap. Walmart is the only company that collects data on the total procurement spend that is directed to women-owned businesses. Adidas is the only company that collects gender data on incident rates and their severity across its strategic suppliers globally.

No company reports the breakdown of data by gender on the number of grievances reported or remediated in the workplace, including violence and harassment grievances, or its annual absenteeism rates by gender.

5. Grievance mechanism in the workplace

Twenty-nine companies (83%) disclose information on the grievance mechanisms available to their employees, with 16 of these companies establishing a mechanism with at least six gender-responsive elements, such as confidentiality, anonymous reporting, verbal submission of grievances, alternate access to a party concerning the grievance if the perpetrator is the direct supervisor of the aggrieved party, and protection against non-retaliation. Although these elements are present in the grievance mechanism, there is not an explicit reference to women or gender. No company mentions an impartial third-party investigator for all grievances, a gender-balanced review body to process grievances or women in the review of the grievance mechanism.

6. Employee engagement

Nine companies (26%) disclose information showing that they engage with their employees on gender issues, such as compensation, parental leave, discrimination, harassment and informing their overall strategies.

Only three companies share information that shows that this feedback is integrated into company policies and practices: Aditya Birla, LVMH and Walmart.

7. External stakeholder engagement

Twenty-one companies (60%) are engaging with external stakeholders on gender issues, with eight companies (23%) disclosing information that indicates this feedback is incorporated into their wider business strategy.

8. Commitment in the supply chain

Six companies (17%) require their suppliers to undertake a gender needs assessment with respect to their supply chain workers, for example, via in-factory surveys that include gender issues. The issues assessed range from sexual harassment and discrimination to pay and childcare, as well as health care and nutrition.

9. Grievance mechanism in the supply chain

Twenty-seven companies (77%) require suppliers to have a grievance mechanism for their workers or make their own grievance mechanism available to supply chain workers, though only 13 companies (37%) ensure that workers are aware of these grievance mechanisms. Seven companies (20%) also allow external individuals and community members access to their own grievance mechanisms to raise complaints about suppliers or the company’s operations.

10.  Corrective action process in the supply chain

Twenty-nine companies (83%) screen for gender-related issues among suppliers as part of their audit process. These include sexual harassment, discrimination based on marital or pregnancy status, and intimidation, harassment, retaliation or violence against trade union members and representatives. Furthermore, 20 companies (57%) identify gender-related issues as requiring corrective action to be taken by the supplier within a set period of time, with seven companies (20%) classifying at least one of these issues as zero-tolerance, resulting in an immediate evaluation of the business relationship and termination if not remediated.

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