In partnership with Equileap
Gender Equity Data
Gender equity in the workplace is a powerful, but neglected, lever to accelerate women’s economic participation and power. At current rates of change, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take just over 200 years to achieve global gender pay parity. In order to increase workplace gender equity, companies need to change their practices and improve their performance.
Unfortunately, at present, too few companies have addressed this adequately, even though there are sound commercial reasons to do this, with a growing body of independent research suggesting that gender diverse companies have above trend returns and lower risks.
Equileap — a not-for-profit organization dedicated to accelerating gender equality in the workplace — recognized that a global database assessing company performance could be used to speed change in a number of ways: by providing detailed information for investors to allocate their funds with an effective gender lens, to help companies understand how well or badly they perform on a global scale and to provide sound evidence for policy makers to guide them in creating new legislation.
Equileap’s co-founders created a unique scorecard against which all aspects of a company’s performance, from the boardroom to the supply chain, could be measured. This methodology offers clear and detailed insights on which companies are successfully working towards greater gender parity. Companies are ranked on 19 criteria in the following categories: gender balance in the leadership and workforce; equal compensation and work/life balance; policies promoting gender equality; and commitment to transparency, and accountability. Equileap also tracks cases of gender-based violence and discrimination at work through an alarm bell methodology.
Every year Equileap collects and updates data on over 3,000 public companies, using publicly available information, as reported by listed companies themselves in their most recent annual reports, sustainability reports, code of conducts, websites and other public filings. This data is becoming a cornerstone of the effort to increase workplace gender equity, and shows very clearly how far companies still have to travel to approach equity. Equileap’s data reveals an overall lack of transparency among public companies on their gender diversity. This matters because naming a problem openly is the first step on the path to being able to fix it. At the moment transparency is the exception rather than the rule, Equileap seeks to change this, so that gaps and progress can be better tracked.
In their most recent Gender Equality Global Report and Ranking, Equileap took a deep dive into the data of the top 1,000 companies from 23 developed countries. It found that only 28% of companies publish gender-segregated information on pay, and only 2.4% could show evidence of an overall gender pay gap of equal to or less than 3%. A number of additional companies claimed to have achieved gender pay parity, but did not provide enough detail or evidence to back this up, even when questioned. This makes verification impossible and raises questions about some claims. The companies that did report their gender pay figures also used a number of different, sometimes misleading methods. Equileap believes that for disclosure to be well understood and to have maximum impact, there needs to be a commonly adopted standard, which includes annual, public reporting of a company’s equal pay gap (gender-segregated pay in at least 3 different bands across the company, adjusted for factors such as pay, seniority or job title) as well the overall gender pay gap (an average of what all full time employed men in the company are paid versus an average of full time employed women) which measures whether women are occupying as many high paying jobs as men.
Stardust Fund recognized that in the current political, social, and economic moment, the time for change in terms of gender workplace equity was urgent, but that financial markets were not yet valuing the tools necessary for change. Investors were not yet ready to invest in the research and analysis necessary for systemic change in workplace equity. As a nonprofit, Equileap required philanthropic funding from additional partners during the initial phase of building and scaling its database. Stardust Fund saw this gap in funding, recognizing the need for philanthropy to provide financial support to enable Equileap to scale and eventually become financially self-sustaining. We responded quickly, investing in Equileap as a philanthropic partner.
Equileap has created a unique, comprehensive database by investigating manually and in-depth over 3,000 companies in 23 countries based on 19 criteria. This data is used by a variety of actors, including companies willing to improve, governments looking for detailed information, or investment professionals designing gender-lens financial products. In the past two years it has grown at a faster rate than anyone thought possible.There is currently over USD 600 million under investment powered by Equileap’s data – which is 25% of all funds currently invested with a gender lens. It has created a family of financial indices, which has been licensed by different providers. Its data is being used by to create the first freely available gender screen of mutual funds, it has carried out gender footprinting of entire investment portfolios and has been commissioned to create new data sets covering emerging markets in Africa, and companies in the Asia Pacific region.
It is too early to identify directly-correlated results from our partnership. However, our hope is that as more investment managers see the value in Equileap's data, their research and data services will help Equileap transition from philanthropic funding to a financially-sustainable business. Investment managers can use Equileap data to make investment decisions that align with their values of workplace gender equity, and to engage with companies they own. Investors can increase the pressure for gender parity by choosing to screen their existing portfolios or to invest in new gender equality products that have been launched recently. They have another powerful tool to bring about change by engaging with companies that have a poor record, through proxy voting or investment stewardship engagements. In time, companies will change their practices and performance, either through internal decisions or due to the investor pressure. All the while, Equileap will continue to measure their progress.
Investors, companies and governments that genuinely want to achieve gender pay parity, rather than window-dressing, now have significant levers they can use to bring about major improvements in workplace gender equity.