By Marika McCauley Sine
SOURCE: Mars, Incorporated
Global supply chains are the engine of our economy. They make it possible for teenagers in Virginia to enjoy chocolate with cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire, for fashionistas in New York to wear dresses made in Bangladesh, and for bankers in London to use cell phones made in China. Supply chains bring many of us a great deal of ease, access and flexibility. And yet, many of the women who work in these supply chains aren’t thriving.
In the agricultural supply chains that generate the food on supermarket shelves around the world, women do much of the work and yet have far less access than men to resources and training, according to UN Women. In the manufacturing supply chains that produce many of the products we use daily, women comprise nearly three-quarters of the workforce in some industries according to BSR, and yet face a persistent wage gap when compared to men. And the number of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies is at 6.4% today, up from zero in 1995 – an incredibly slow rate of progress. Women also do most of the world’s unpaid work in addition to their core jobs – investing many hours every day in childcare, cooking and cleaning.
Women around the world deserve the opportunity to thrive. To me, thriving means being rewarded for your efforts and having equal access to opportunities to learn and advance, without facing discrimination.
In my work, I’m fortunate to be able to play a small part in the growing global effort to empower women and girls. At Mars, a global company whose success depends on global supply chains, we’re focused on unlocking opportunities for women. When women’s contributions are under-valued and their potential is un-tapped, we’re leaving value on the table. We’re inefficient. An increasing body of credible evidence demonstrates that investing in and empowering women strengthens economies and generates significant a high return on investment. Pressing for progress – the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day celebration – is simply smart business.
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