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Gender Equality Week 2021: Advancing Gender Equality For All Using Targets and Supporting Actions

Every year in September, Canada recognizes Gender Equality Week. This year’s theme is “Advancing gender equality for all” – a fitting theme that recognizes that advancing gender equality benefits women, men, and gender non-binary individuals and that any efforts to make progress must include an intersectional lens. Gender Equality Week 2021 demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to continue raising awareness about the contributions of women and gender diverse communities and the ways they build capacity for more inclusive, equitable, and just societies.

Working with Canadian companies to advance gender equality in the workplace, supply chains, and communities is one of Global Compact Network Canada’s top priorities. In December 2020, we debuted our original Blueprint for Gender Equality and Maturity Model self-assessment tool, and to build on this momentum, we are proud to have brought together a group of 14 companies to participate in the Target Gender Equality program this year.

The Canadian companies participating in Target Gender Equality span across the country and represent various industries, sectors, sizes, and they are at different stages when it comes to embedding gender equality within their business strategy. The Target Gender Equality program focuses on helping companies set and meet ambitious but realistic representation targets and implement enabling actions that support women’s empowerment and gender equality through expertly facilitated workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and a host of additional engagement activities on the subject such as creating family-friendly workplaces, engaging men as allies, preventing sexual harassment and supporting women in male-dominated industries.

While Target Gender Equality was designed as an Accelerator for companies that are members of the UN Global Compact, it also addresses one of the most troubling ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic: the dwindling pipeline of women. In response to the challenges of the pandemic, women are leaving the workforce at higher rates which not only suggests there will be fewer women on the leadership track but also threatens the modest (albeit shockingly slow) progress that corporate Canada has made in nominating women for Board of Directors positions or those who have earned senior management roles. These challenges are amplified for racialized women, Indigenous women, women with disabilities, and women that identify as members of the LBGTQI2S+ community. Helping companies proactively examine their gender gaps and develop actionable and measurable solutions to ensure women and diverse individuals retain and grow their presence and power in organizations will be a significant means of offsetting the pandemic’s impact in the years to come.

The benefits of greater diversity in the workplace have been proven time and time again, but meaningfully embedding gender equality, diversity, and inclusion within an organization’s core is complex work that takes time and continuous effort. Global Compact Network Canada is committed to supporting companies as they set representation targets that align with the realities of their business and the demographics of the local communities in which they operate. To move forward and build accountability, targets designed with robust short- and long-term supporting actions can be an effective means of improving diversity, fostering inclusion, and building workplaces that empower all workers.

If you are interested in learning more about Global Compact Network Canada’s work to advance gender equality, please contact Brittany Gataveckas at brittany@globalcompact.ca