APEC Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business

APEC Policy Partnership on Woman and the Economy, November 2017
East Asia and Pacific
30. Nov 2017

APEC women as prime movers of inclusive business

• 104 pages • APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy

While APEC strongly recognises the full potential and contributions of women, reports show that women continue to face many barriers to full and productive participation in various sectors and industries. Thus, the Philippines led the conceptualisation and implementation of the project, Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business, which looked into the broader aspect of inclusive business both in theory and in practice, and its effects on women’s economic empowerment through a survey, documentary reviews, and a seminar-workshop to compile success stories and best endeavours of APEC member economies.

The study aims to provide more understanding on the importance of inclusive business (IB) in helping narrow the chasm between the rich and the poor, alongside addressing the gender gap. It aspires to provide a fresh perspective on how businesses that recognize gender-based constraints reap substantial benefits and trickle-down results up to those in the base of the pyramid (BoP). It identifies the participation of women within inclusive businesses and describes the challenges and constraints confronting women as well as the benefits of women in businesses.

Key recommendations:

  • women in IB should take advantage of their access to resources and governance mechanisms;
  • women in IB should implement in-house programmes to train and integrate women at the BoP;
  • the government and other institutions must deliver increased support for women; and
  • APEC should enhance data-sharing and information dissemination to promote gender-responsive IB models.

Importance for businesses:

  • Presents the benefits of women in inclusive business models regarding efficiency and growth at enterprises including financial gains
  • Shows that the equality of the genders and the inclusion of women have tremendous social and economic benefits

Importance for policymaker

  • The report captures current statistics in APEC and offers solutions in order to enable conditions for women in inclusive business

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) published the APEC Women as Prime Movers of Inclusive Business study to present the potential benefits, enabling conditions, and policy aspirations of women in inclusive business models. The project aimed to capture women’s participation in IB, their access to resources, leadership, opportunities, voice and visibility, capacity building, innovation and technology, and training and information. Finally, the report describes IB models and enabling conditions and policies for sustainable inclusive growth.

While women represent 40% of the world’s workforce, yet in almost all sectors, women are less likely than men to occupy managerial positions and face great barriers to full participation in the labour market

When the potential of almost half of labour market participants is not fully realised, it has serious implications for efficiency and growth at company, sectoral, and national levels. A recent United Nations report estimates that the barriers to female participation in the Asia-Pacific region’s labour markets cost its economies US$89 billion annually. The organization Catalyst 16 found that Fortune 500 companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the least by 16% on return on sales and by 26% on return on invested capital.

The conclusions drawn in the paper for the different institutions are:

  • Business organisations: governance mechanisms for women’s participation, consultation, and decision-making are active and greatly appreciated; respondents assessed their organisations to be strong overall in terms of providing access to resources, opportunities, benefits & gains for women’s access in the workplace; however, companies should enhance competencies and resources for women even more through interventions and implement gender focal persons and/or women’s desk that perform to people’s expectations of catering to the needs of women
  • Government: policymakers should cooperate with companies and experts in the field in order to better understand the potential contribution of inclusive business to women’s economic empowerment; and the challenges facing these models; and to be able to formulate policies designed to create the enabling environment;
  • Challenges/constraints: women in businesses face great barriers in their business organisation, in their sectors/industries, and in harmonising self and family. Policymakers and companies should to work together to eliminate these barriers.

The report also recommends for APEC members to improve the business environment in order to attract more women to business. These enabling conditions include appropriate policy frameworks, increased accessibility to information, financial offerings, facilitating partnerships and networking, as well as setting incentives for women’s participation. Their institutions should also integrate IBs, facilitate their growth, and develop training programmes and legal information support.