Jan 18

Image: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via Unsplash

This year, International Women’s Day was marked by large-scale investments into initiatives supporting women in business.

Goldman Sachs announced last week that it is launching a “One Million Black Women” initiative. In partnership with Black women-led organisations, the bank will invest $10 billion over the next 10 years, aiming to change the lives of at least 1 million black women. The initiative will focus on areas like healthcare, job creation and education. Goldman Sachs also pledged $100 million over the next decade for philanthropic ventures focused on African-American women.

Black women are facing a double bias and are usually overlooked when it comes to senior position appointments, ESG consultant Kimberly Lewis told Financial Times. At the same time, research by Goldman Sachs showed that reducing the constantly widening earnings gap for Black women could potentially create 1.2-1.7 million U.S. jobs, as well as increase the annual U.S. GDP by $300-450 billion in current dollars.

Canadian financial services provider BMO Financial Group also marked International Women’s day by launching a  Women in Business Bond with a CAD $750 million five-year bond offering. It is going to become the first domestic issue off its sustainability framework. Proceeds from the issue will be allocated toward women-owned enterprises, including micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses.

At the same time across the ocean, many large German companies are rushing to appoint more women to executive roles in order to comply with a new women’s quota for management roles. Nearly half of the largest listed companies in Germany have yet to appoint at least one woman to their executive boards.

This trend is almost universal, as less than 20% of enterprises in the world have gender-balanced or predominantly female company boards. This is not surprising, as the world is still far from parity when it comes to executive positions.

According to the latest ILO ranking, only five out of 83 countries have achieved parity in leadership positions. These include Jordan, Saint Lucia, Botswana, Honduras and the Philippines. The highest-ranking European country is Belarus at rank six, followed by Latvia, Moldova and Russia. Generally, Eastern European countries and former Soviet republics score higher, while the United States ranks not even in the top 20.  

By Yana Mkrtchyan

Yana Mkrtchyan is a freelance journalist covering business, energy and politics in emerging markets.

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