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6 March 2023

As the discourse on gender continues to evolve, it’s clear it can no longer be confined to the “Social” in ESG. Improved performance on gender issues finds expression across all sustainability pillars – from the calls for increased diversity in the boardroom under Governance to the impact of climate change on women in certain regions of the world under the Environment pillar.

Version 3 of the ASI Performance Standard, released in May 2022, acknowledged this evolution with a strengthening of the gender lens across the whole standard.  This means ‘mainstreaming’ gender considerations, for example, taking account of gender representation when drawing up emergency response plans and being gender sensitive when developing a Complaints Resolution Mechanism.

Another key change was the replacement of the Women’s Rights Criterion with a Criterion on Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment (Criterion 9.2). The criterion requires ASI Members to implement a program which promotes gender equity and women’s empowerment in employment practices; training opportunities; awarding of contracts; processes of engagement; management activities and at a minimum, address barriers to professional development, discrimination, violence and harassment.

As you seek to implement 9.2 and improve performance on ESG as it relates to gender, here are some points to consider:

  • Conducting a gender audit of your organisation.
  • Ensuring all Workers are paid directly and using mutually agreed methods (e.g., direct bank transfer, direct payments for school fees, etc.) to ensure they safely receive and retain their wages.
  • Developing alternate payment methods to ensure safety and security for women Workers, such as direct payments for school fees.
  • Ensuring paternity leave is available and there is no penalty for taking it. Men should be encouraged to take paternity leave.
  • Providing flexible working Policies and practices for parents such as flexible hours, job-sharing and homeworking around school times.
  • Providing alternate assignments without wage reduction when pregnancy requires a less physically demanding job assignment.
  • Ensuring that pregnant and nursing women do not perform work that may compromise the health of the mother or the child. This includes working during night hours.
  • Providing facilities for pregnant and breast-feeding women and day care facilities for preschool age children
  • Appointing a committee or responsible person (depending on the size of the organisation) that is responsible for the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of measures that promote gender equity and women’s empowerment.

As we approach International Women’s Day, what one thing can you implement today to move the needle on the gender dial?

See ASI’s Performance Standard Guidance for more recommendations and insights.


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