Gender Equity in Business: How Are We Doing in the Region?
Depending on our social environment, it may seem that gender equality in the business world has greatly increased recently in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and that it is unnecessary to further insist on it.
The data compiled in a study —together with the Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (IDB INTAL) of the Inter-American Development Bank Group— tells us that inequality has been reduced; yet it is still a problem that needs to be addressed.
The study "Una olimpiada desigual. La equidad de género en las empresas latinoamericanas y del Caribe" (Unequal Olympics: Gender Equity in Latin American and Caribbean Companies) has helped us understand two key points to focus the investments and actions we carry out together with our clients: the women's labor situation in the region and the main determining factors of gender equity at firms.
First, the document provides evidence of the various problems women are faced with in the labor market. Some of the most important ones are horizontal and vertical segregation, and the gender pay gap in LAC companies. Fourteen percent of LAC firms are women-owned, while 15% of the management positions are held by women. In addition, the percentage of women is higher in junior (36%) than in senior positions (25%).
In fact, 28% of the surveyed firms report having a gender pay gap, and 34% of these state that disparity is between 11% and 20%.
Secondly, the study defines the main actions and characteristics explaining why some firms are more pro-gender than others. Female leadership has a positive impact on the rest of the women in the firm. The report revealed that women in senior decision-making positions mentor and empower other women in their professional careers. Moreover, the results showed that workforce training, the use of advanced technologies, and a female-friendly corporate culture also foster women's careers.
This study provides important findings that will help us focus our efforts to continue supporting working women, businesswomen and women entrepreneurs in their professional development. At IDB Invest we are committed to the gender and diversity agenda. We will continue developing actions with our clients to strengthen gender equity within the companies of the region.
We are convinced that actively promoting gender equality is key, both in our workforce and at the firms we work with in LAC.
One instrument to accelerate gender equality is "gender lens investing.” Gender equity and women's economic empowerment is key to accomplish our mission as a multilateral lending agency focused on impact and development. Companies that include equity in their business strategy—apart from contributing to a more inclusive society—have more opportunities to achieve better results in terms of innovation, productivity and growth.
At IDB Invest we take specific actions in our projects to improve gender equity in the region through our clients. We work with companies from different sectors offering them financial products and advisory services that will help them build more inclusive businesses. As an example of our commitment, in March we issued the first-ever gender bond for 2.5 billion Mexican pesos (equivalent to approximately $122 million), with a three-year term in Mexico to finance more than 1,200 micro-, small-, and medium-sized women-led enterprises in that country.
While we have made important strides in gender equality in the last few years, we must keep an eye on the prize and continue investing in inclusive business practices.
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