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CSR & Making a Difference Q1 2022

Closing the gender gap supports the sustainability gap

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Gillian Harford

Country Executive, 30% Club Ireland

Diversity, sustainability and climate action have the potential to be more strongly aligned within ESG strategy, driving better outcomes. 

As companies focus on what ESG means for their business, corporate leaders have climate and diversity on their radar. Many companies set gender targets for their leadership, and some for their wider workforce and customer bases, which is important for our action across the 30% Club.

Women are growing in importance as investors and now hold 40% of total global wealth.

Linking climate and diversity targets

Separately, businesses set targets for achieving net zero emissions. However few link the strategies together. Recent research commissioned by our 30% Club partners Oliver Wyman Forum suggests that we can achieve greater results if the two areas of focus are integrated given the similarities in their strategic requirements for tangible impact: committed leadership, a rigorous focus on data results and continuous learning across the organisation.

The research also calls out significant possibilities in the value that diversity brings to the strategic decisions made by Boards and C-Suite regarding ESG priorities. For example:

Diverse views across climate action leaders: The research shows that women are twice as likely to consider ESG implications and are more open to changes that will drive climate action; but they are underrepresented in decisionmaking positions, especially in carbonintensive industries.

Climate lens investors: Women are growing in importance as investors and now hold 40% of total global wealth. They have a proven stronger preference for investing that prioritises environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors.

Low carbon product influencers: Women make a large proportion of household purchase decisions in areas that generate high emissions, such as food, travel and energy. They are also more likely on average than men to change their habits in ways that contribute to emissions reduction. Considering a more diverse customer base in developing customer solutions has the potential to drive better outcomes and progress for organisation strategy.

Ultimately, ESG is focused on purpose, talent, and sustainable decisions for our organisations, our teams, our customers and our stakeholders. Diversity of thought as we make corporate decisions is integral to those successful outcomes.

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