March 09, 2017
BNY Mellon's Women's Initiatives Network hosts a panel discussion on advancing gender equality in celebration of International Women's Day
On Thursday, March 2, BNY Mellon's Women's Initiatives Network (WIN) hosted its sixth-annual celebration of International Women's Day, featuring a panel discussion with leaders focusing on gender diversity and women's empowerment. The theme for this year's International Women's Day, 'Be Bold for Change,' sparked conversations on how to make substantive progress for women at BNY Mellon, in the broader workforce and for all women and girls across the globe. Gerald Hassell, Chairman and CEO of BNY Mellon, opened the event and turned the discussion over to the panelists, including Deborah Gillis, President and CEO of Catalyst, Barbara Murphy-Warrington, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Joelle Tanguy, Strategic Partnerships Director with UN Women, and Heidi DuBois, BNY Mellon's Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Investing.
Throughout the discussion, panelists touched on how encouraging work-life integration will even the playing field in the workplace.
'Today, work is not a place you go, it's something you do,' remarked Deborah Gillis of Catalyst, a leading nonprofit organization working to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion.
As companies increasingly begin implementing flexible working hours and remote-access technology in an effort to improve happiness and productivity for both men and women, it's crucial that women feel empowered to utilize that flexibility to achieve their personal and professional goals. BNY Mellon's Heidi DuBois added, 'Policies are the foundation for culture - cultures will evolve as these more inclusive policies evolve.'
Pursuing Sustainable Development - Including Gender Equality
In 2012, the United Nations established a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address some of the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world. Particularly relevant to this discussion was its fifth goal, 'achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.' However, as UN Women's Joelle Tanguy remarked, 'gender equality efforts cannot be limited to the fifth goal; it is a crucial element that will determine our success in meeting all of these goals.'
In order to explore the extent of the impact gender parity could have on global development, BNY Mellon and the UN Foundation released a report titled, 'Return on Equality: Investment Opportunities to Help Close the Global Gender Gap,' which found that closing gender gaps by improving access to products and services in the water, contraception, telecommunications, energy, and child care sectors globally could unlock $300 billion in incremental annual spending by 2025. There are an increasing number of opportunities for the investment community to address these imbalances through gender-lens investing. Historically, socially-conscious investments, like those aiming to improve gender equality, have been perceived more as charitable pursuits rather than thoughtful strategies with the potential for significant returns. However, enabling all women to become active participants in the global economy by improving their access to vital products and services actually opens the door to a vast multitude of profit opportunities.
International Women's Day is an important time to celebrate all that women have accomplished and to evaluate the progress that still needs to be made. The panelists unanimously called upon both men and women to work together to build a vision for a fairer and more inclusive world. Part of this work will mean organizations across the public and private sectors joining forces to identify industries in need of investment, creating opportunities for individual and institutional investors to incorporate these investments into their portfolios, and establishing metrics by which to evaluate the tangible impact gender-lens investments have on the lives of women and girls. The closer we come to true global gender parity, the more all of us stand to benefit.