Gender-based violence (GBV) represents an incredible risk to human potential and the actualization of gender injustice. Around the world, 35 percent of women—818 million—over the age of 15 have experienced sexual or physical violence at home, in the workplace or in their communities. GBV is often regarded as a social, human rights or “women’s” issue, rather than a global business concern. But this perspective is incomplete; businesses are no less important actors in ending GBV.
There can be no decent work with violence and harassment in the workplace. Business leaders are starting to realize this and taking a stand to end these harmful practices. And the international community is listening. But these actions are not enough. The movement to end GBV needs the voice of the private sector.
Companies that do not take action to end GBV are not only perpetuating this violence, but also hindering their own success and that of their workforce. It’s time for the private sector to recognize the elimination of GBV as better business.
The first step for companies is to acknowledge the importance of this issue. In many cases they lack the data and resources to highlight how GBV affects their business, as well as the tools and best practices necessary for engagement. These gaps in research and advocacy not only hinder progress, but also make GBV increasingly obscure and difficult to address.
The B Team is committed to strengthening the business case for eradicating gender-based violence in the world of work. As part of this commitment, The B Team is conducting research to showcase the cost of GBV and piloting an advocacy campaign to incentivize meaningful and sustained commitment to this issue from the private sector. These resources will help shine a light on a business-critical issue that has been under-researched and ensure companies know that GBV can, and must, be eliminated with the help of the private sector.
Some companies and business leaders are, however, realizing their responsibility in ending gender-based violence. The GSMA endeavors to address unique mobile-related safety concerns for women. Its recent Mobile Gender Gap report highlights that safety & security concerns disproportionately serve as barriers for women in mobile phone ownership and use as compared with men. GSMA is working to face these concerns head-on through supporting initiatives like anonymous top-up, call blocking services, harassment apps and more.
These developments not only protect women and advance digital and financial inclusion, but they also result in significant revenue growth for the mobile industry. GSMA estimates that closing the mobile gender gap will generate US $15 billion in industry revenue over the next year. And they’re not alone in recognizing the moral and business imperative of taking action. François-Henri Pinault, Chairman & CEO of Kering and B Team Leader, has made eradicating gender-based violence the primary focus of the company’s Foundation. For the last decade, the Kering Foundation has supported and partnered with NGOs that work with female survivors of violence. In addition to direct funding, the Foundation provides guidance to social entrepreneurs and mobilizes actions and commitments from Kering’s 40,000 employees.
Recognizing that migrant and refugee women are particularly vulnerable to violence, the Kering Foundation supports programs in migrant camps in Calais, France focused on violence prevention, sexual health and medical care. This year, the Kering Foundation is also backing seven social entrepreneurial projects including a digital app that enables the filing of complaints of violence, a company that helps to socially and economically integrate female asylum seekers and a program that facilitates groups to discuss violent male behavior.
The actions these companies are taking represent just a small share of the impact the private sector can have in transforming workplaces, communities and individual lives around the world by eradicating gender-based violence. The B Team is committed to helping galvanize a movement of businesses to join them by providing focused data, tools and resources.
With these in hand, private sector champions can help increase understanding that ending gender-based violence is better business. A truly just and inclusive future cannot exist if this violence persists. It’s time to mobilize business as a force against gender-based violence.