Companies Gain Competitive Edge Through Gender Equality

February 27, 2019

On December 6, the United Nations Global Compact USA Network and Athena co-hosted a two-day regional meet up in San Francisco to educate and engage business on the future of the workforce and how achieving gender equality provides companies with a strategic business advantage.  Regional executives from BioFluidica, CBRE, ICE, Intuit, Oracle, Qualcomm, Reveal Biosciences, Sony, Teradata, Valtari Bio, ViaSat and others convened around this global call to action.


The United Nation’s charter is to foster a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive world to improve the quality of life for everyone. The UN’s intergovernmental membership is comprised of 193-member states, and in 2000 it launched the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), also known as Agenda 2030.  As the world’s largest sustainability initiative, the UNGC is a call to action for companies to align strategies and operations with universal principals around human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.


Agenda 2030 features 17 sustainable development goals with SDG5 offering corporate best practices for achieving gender equality.  Inclusion and diversity are inextricably linked to increasing innovation, competitiveness and business growth. Industry research shows that diversifying your workforce drives organizational performance and boosts corporate profits and shareholder value. ( Those companies modernizing their workforce are rapidly discovering that advancing women is not a corporate social responsibility, but rather an economic imperative.


One way to demonstrate commitment to your customers, employees and shareholders is to become a UNGC signatory. As of 2019, more than 10,000 signatories and corporate leaders are gaining access to gender diversity corporate best practices and a proven framework for success.  

Corporate leadership on gender equality is essential to creating the world we want. This vast global network of companies implementing these values-based principles are distinctively setting themselves apart in the war for talent, market share and social impact.


As more data proves the nexus between these business rewards, companies are discovering that they’re leaving money on the table with cultures and policies that breed gender inequalities. While more and more companies are launching internal women’s initiatives, we know that placing one gender in a room to address inequalities only precludes men from accessing the awareness and unconscious bias that is pervasive in much of corporate America. It’s essential that we invite men to become champions in this march towards gender equality.

In addition, as more consumers and employees seek out demonstrated social impact from corporations, investors are also strengthening their investment portfolios using a gender equity lens. The UNGC and its 17 SDGs are intrinsically linked to this evolving corporate landscape.

Every corporate culture is a reflection of its core values and brand identification. Creating a culture of belonging is certainly not a silver bullet.  It requires a commitment from the top down to create an inclusive and thriving environment.  Instituting work-life balance and flexible work policies that respect the needs of parents and caretakers will only attract employees committed to your mission. How employees experience your company is directly tied to the consumer experience.

This seismic societal shift to modernize our workforce is driven by 1) a generational movement for corporate leaders to become active citizens in creating a sustainable world and 2) data that ties increased profits and innovation with a diverse workforce. The more that communities and businesses engage in the world’s largest sustainability initiative, the quicker our shared goals of prosperity for all can be realized.

In the 3 years since launching Agenda 2030, progress has been captured and published in the UNGC 2018 Progress Report.  Visit  to learn how your company can become a signatory and achieve sustained business success. Let’s leave no one behind.


Holly Smithson

CEO | Athena


DeLinda Forsythe

CEO & Founder | (ICE) Innovative Commercial Environments