Three Key Steps Companies Can Take to Empower Women and Girls

Mar 9, 2016 | Blogs

Lessons from the 2016 International Women’s Day Forum

With the release of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, it is no surprise that both the public and private sector are asking how they can help address SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

For two days, we explored this question at the 2016 annual International Women’s Day Forum, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center and the United Nations Office for Partnerships.  The conference highlighted three key steps companies can take to have a meaningful impact on the empowerment of women and girls.

  • Apply capabilities and expertise: Each company has unique skills and expertise that it can bring to bear on a problem.  Corporations generate the greatest possible impact when they use their core competencies to develop relevant solutions. For example, NBCUniversal leverages its unique knowledge of the power and reach of media and existing platforms to help stimulate conversation and mobilize action around the world’s pressing issues.  In this way, the company contributes in a powerful way that reinforces its brand and magnifies its impact.


  • Partner effectively: SDG17 outlines the need to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.  To accelerate women and girl’s empowerment, companies need to partner in a meaningful way.   We can no longer apply the traditional model where companies provide the financial support and non-profits deliver the program.  To create a more inclusive world, companies need to consider how they can work together with governments, non-profits, companies, and even competitors to help drive global empowerment and equity forward.  For example, as a member of the World Cocoa Foundation, Mondelez International partners with peers and competitors to help advance sustainable cocoa farming, such as by empowering women in the cocoa supply chain.  Partnership not only helps build scale and resources, but also can help bring greater credibility to the cause.


  • Gather evidence: Panelists repeatedly stated that we need data in order to measure progress and determine how to distribute resources effectively.  If not, how can we tell if our programs making a meaningful impact?  As outlined in Corporate Citizenship’s latest paper, Impact for Change: Better Business in a Better World, companies should conduct impact assessments to gather evidence and create data-driven solutions to facilitate women’s economic progress, development outcomes, and prosperous businesses.


SDG 5 is a lofty, but incredibly important goal.  If we work together and use data as our guiding star, then we can create a better world for women and girls.

To find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals and the implications and opportunities for business, you may like to read From My World to Our World: What the Sustainable Development Goals Mean for Business.