Gender gaps around the world reflect underlying societal issues that impact women at all stages of life, from the wages earned at work, and the way women are treated by the justice system, to the pervasive everyday sexism highlighted by the #MeToo movement. At work, women may be subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination, which can lead to litigation, settlements and reputational damage for the company.
Conversely, companies that strive to nurture and retain their female workforce by developing inclusive and safe cultures, alongside parental leave, paid sick leave and menopause support, are likely to reap the benefit with happy, productive employees. This is why gender equity constitutes an important pillar of our human capital engagement theme.
We expect companies to have effective strategies and monitoring systems in place to help prevent and remedy any sexual discrimination, harassment or bullying and to create safe and inclusive cultures. Increasing female representation, especially in leadership positions, can help to prevent sexual harassment.
Companies should have adequate governance in place as well as anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and deliver training on preventing workplace harassment. Companies should create a safe and inclusive physical environment for all workers by ensuring the availability of safe facilities and proper surveillance. They should limit any factors that may increase the risk of sexual harassment occurring, such as employee alcohol consumption.
Where sexual harassment does occur, we expect companies to provide external relief for workers and credible transparency around the remediation process. The company should make grievance reporting mechanisms available and accessible to workers, and escalate grievances appropriately. It should identify and assess the risk, and learn from this and other past experiences.
Read the full article in our Q1 2023 Public Engagement Report.