The Business Case for Gender Integration

Insights from the IAP Challenge Fund

There is increasing recognition from commercial buyers and suppliers that gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) are key contributors to value chain sustainability. Integrating GESI into a business model enhances company outcomes. Inclusive businesses play a critical role in supporting access, agency, and voice through economic empowerment of women in supply chains and foster inclusion, creating opportunities and improvements for all.

Starting the Journey

A Gender Analysis guides businesses in uncovering biases and potential for gender mainstreaming. For companies working with IAP, it identified internal and external gender constraints, offering a diagnostic tool for focused planning. Companies implemented strategic changes. Some revised their HR manuals, internal procedures, and policies; others made marketing or supply chain strategies more inclusive.  Business increased productivity and competitiveness by fostering equitable engagement of women and men across various roles. Review the PDF to see examples of successful strategies in managing gender constraints and turning them into economic advantages.

A Smart Business is a Gender-Smart Business

Small and growing inclusive businesses can apply a gender lens in their business operations to gain a competitive edge in the market. Taking the time to understand gender-based constraints, and then proactively addressing them, can lead to increased business model innovation. It also enhances model profitability and sustainability. Businesses need to have efficient data collection systems to collect gender desegregated data. However, it is critical to look beyond the numbers and to monitor the changes in the practices and gains of women and men along the supply /distribution chain.

A preliminary gender assessment, an engaged leadership team, and new gender-informed initiatives open opportunities to re-balance gender inequalities in way that helps women increase access to paid work, training, skills, and agency to use new skills and make decisions about their businesses and voice. It also empowers women to take up their central role in market systems. Thinking about gender in a business is not an ESG box-ticking exercise or something only large companies should pay attention to. It is a business imperative for all companies, regardless of size, that increases profitability. Gender equality makes business sense.

The Business Case for Gender Integration

Insights from the IAP Challenge Fund

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