Yesterday, I took the pledge to end all-male panels on behalf of UN Global Compact headquarters in New York during my opening remarks at the Women’s Empowerment Principles Annual Event at the UN. This is the moment to stop making excuses and start challenging the status quo. There is no shortage of qualified women, and we need the voices of women at important events across the world.
When women take the stage and offer their opinions, they become visible as leaders. Their voices are heard. Through ensuring representation, we can change the expectation of what a panel typically looks like.
This action was inspired by the Male Champions of Change work led by Elizabeth Broderick, co-chair of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group and Former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner. It is estimated less than 15% of panelists in Australia are women. So Ms. Broderick stepped up and called for change.
By taking the pledge, the UN Global Compact office in New York will not take part in or host panels comprised only of men. Our male employees will advance gender equality when they are invited to speak on an all-male panel by asking to substitute a female colleague, raising the importance of women speakers if they do attend the event, or declining the speaking engagement.
I encourage our 80-plus Local Networks and over 13,000 signatories around the world to make their own pledges to bring gender balance to conferences and events – and ask them share their commitment via Twitter at #PanelPledge.
Yes, gender equality is a vast and complex issue. As it relates to business, there are concrete steps we can take toward gender parity: from engaging women in the value chain and investing in female entrepreneurs, to providing access to childcare options.
Over the past two days at the Women’s Empowerment Principles Annual Event, held in conjunction with the 60th Commission on the Status of Women, we have been exploring the countless ways that societies everywhere can increase economic participation by women and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. These are important objectives, with significant potential, and we at the UN Global Compact are heavily invested in ensuring that business plays its part.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will require greater equality and opportunity for women and girls everywhere. And one practical step is pledging to make both women’s and men’s perspectives heard on stages everywhere.
Join us and make the pledge at #PanelPledge.