Impact Blog

The views expressed in these posts are those of the authors and are current only through the date stated. These views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions, and Calvert disclaims any responsibility to update such views. These views may not be relied upon as investment advice and, because investment decisions for Calvert are based on many factors, may not be relied upon as an indication of trading intent on behalf of any Calvert fund. References to individual companies for Engagement or Research purposes are provided for illustrative purposes only and may not be representative of the results of all of Calvert’s engagement efforts. The discussion herein is general in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. There is no guarantee as to its accuracy or completeness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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      By Erica Lasdon, ESG Senior Research Analyst, Calvert Research and Management

      Washington - In its 11th year, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report (2017) finds a decline in gender equality, with particularly large gaps in the areas of economic opportunity and politics.1 This represents the first overall decline in parity since the report's 2006 inception, results that carry a range of implications. Countries with higher levels of equality, for example, have been shown to be more politically stable, creating a better operating environment for business and investment.2

      The 2017 report tracks the progress of 144 countries towards equality between women and men in four key areas that comprise the report's overall Global Gender Gap Index: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. In 2017, the average worldwide gender-parity gap is 32%, versus 31.7% in 2016.

      Calvert Blog 12-7

      The U.S. fell four places to 49 out of 144 countries, mainly due to its low political empowerment score, reflecting the low number of women in top U.S. government positions.3

      Closing the Gaps

      The economic and political gaps between women and men remain the widest of the four categories rated in the Global Gender Gap Index. The political gap of 77% is unchanged since last year. The economic gap of 42% reflects a second consecutive year of reversed progress, dipping to its lowest level since 2008. The gaps for health and education are just 4% and 5%, respectively. At the current pace of progress, the report estimates the overall global gender gap can be closed in 100 years. By region, estimates vary, including 61 years to close the gap in Western Europe, 62 years in South Asia, 79 years in Latin America, 157 years in the Middle East and North Africa, and 168 years in North America.4

      Implications for Investors

      Studies suggest that improving gender parity may result in significant economic dividends. Economic gender parity could add an additional $250 billion to the GDP of the U.K., $1,750 billion to the U.S., and $550 billion to Japan.5 As nations and businesses increasingly rely on innovative talent and skills to remain competitive, the integration of women into the talent pool becomes a must, the report states.

      Companies play a critical role in influencing a country's overall gender equity profile. Responsible investment strategies often include examining a company's diversity and gender policies, and these have long been a focus at Calvert.

      Published biennially since 2012, The Calvert Diversity Report: Examining the Cracks in the Ceiling, looks at how companies in the S&P 100 are doing on a range of diversity indicators—including several key women's issues. In 2004, the Calvert Women's Principles were established in partnership with the United Nations. Today, they remain a model widely adopted by businesses and organizations worldwide for empowering and advancing women in the workplace.

      Bottom Line: A host of economic and societal benefits accrue to countries with higher levels of gender equality. Responsible investment strategies typically assess diversity and gender issues in their investment decision-making.