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 - As the #MeToo movement encourages more urgent change across society, International Women's Day provides an additional opportunity to examine the state of women in the workplace, looking at both the gains made in recent years and the distance yet to go.

      Calvert was among the first asset managers to turn a gender lens on its investments and engage with companies on their diversity practices and policies. In 2004, the Calvert Women's Principles were developed in partnership with United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). That marked the first global corporate code of conduct focused exclusively on empowering, advancing and investing in women worldwide, and served a forerunner to the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP), introduced by UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in 2010.

      The seven principles call for corporations to take concrete steps to attain gender equality in the following areas:

      • Employment and compensation: Adopt and implement employment policies and practices that eliminate gender discrimination in recruitment, hiring, pay and promotion. It is estimated that workplace discrimination costs businesses $64 billion annually.1
      • Work-life balance and career development: Adopt, implement, and promote policies and practices that enable work-life balance and support educational, career and vocational development. Workplace flexibility can lead to cost-savings from reduction in turnovers, and increased commitment and engagement of employees.2
      • Health, safety, and freedom from violence: Adopt and implement policies to secure the health, safety, and well-being of women workers.
      • Management and Governance: Adopt and implement policies to ensure equitable participation in management and governance. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.3
      • Business, Supply Chain, and Marketing Practices: Adopt and implement non-discriminatory business, supply chain, contracting, and marketing policies and practices.
      • Civic and Community Engagement: Adopt and implement policies to promote equitable participation in civic life and eliminate all forms of discrimination and exploitation. Studies show that increasing women and girls' education contributes to higher economic growth.4
      • Transparency and Accountability: In operations and in business and stakeholder relationships, adopt and implement policies that are publicly disclosed, monitored, and enforced.

      Learn more about The Calvert Women's Principles here.

      Gender equality good for business

      The need for companies to act on these principles remains acute. Since 2012, Calvert has tracked the progress of gender diversity among the multinational companies of the Standard & Poor's 100 Index (S&P 100). Our most recent survey results, found in The Calvert Diversity Report: Examining the Cracks in the Ceiling reveal some progress in the boardroom, but show considerable room for improvement.

      Among the S&P 100 executive ranks, for example, a full 41% of S&P 100 companies still do not have any women in their five highest-paid executive positions. Other measures of gender equity, including pay equity and representation in mid-level management show continuing challenges. Moreover, the vast majority of U.S. companies still do not disclose diversity information, making it more difficult for investors and other stakeholders to assess corporate progress.

      Making progress doesn't just provide social gains - Calvert believes it can also be good for a company's bottom line. An increasing volume of studies show that women's economic equality is good for business. Research by Catalyst, Credit Suisse, and McKinsey all converge on the finding that greater gender diversity on corporate boards is associated with greater financial returns.5

      What companies can do

      We believe companies should use this renewed attention towards gender equity to assess career development barriers. They should establish goals to improve diversity performance, conduct individual and group diversity training, track the representation of women, minorities and other traditionally underrepresented groups in leadership programs, and tie diversity goals to compensation. While structural and cultural changes do not happen overnight, accelerated commitments on these practices is essential to speed the slow pace of progress.

      Bottom line: Empowering women in the workplace has been a longtime priority for Calvert as we engage with companies about how they manage their workforces and diversity in general. We hope the current focus on women's issues will add momentum to these trends, benefiting women, society and the economy.