Businesses play a crucial part in helping to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of aims led by the United Nations to help build a better world over the next 15 years.
Their main aim is to address societal and environmental issues and provide a way for companies to benchmark their efforts against a recognised global framework.
One of their goals surrounds the ongoing fight to achieving gender equality – with a priority being to provide women and girls with equal access to work and education. This is particularly pressing in developing countries, but even closer to home there is much work to do, says Kathryn Wightman-Beaven, Director of Global Sustainability at DP World.
Speaking to HR Grapevine, she tell us exactly what DP World is doing to champion diversity and help females, both near and far.
“The gender pay gap for women in the UK with no children is still seven per cent, and for those with at least one child it leaps to 21%,” she says. “Not only is gender equality a vital issue, it is also key to building more sustainable and better businesses. We recently commissioned research with YouGov to find out more about perceptions of diversity in the workplace. The study highlighted that diverse and inclusive workplaces are better for productivity and also candidate attraction. 80% of respondents said they would prefer to work in an organisation with a diverse mix of employees.
“As a global trade enabler with over 36,000 employees, having a diverse and inclusive workplace is vital. To raise employee awareness and engagement of this, we held a company-wide Diversity and Inclusion month towards the end of last year.”
She tells us that they produced explanatory toolkits, mentoring programmes – including a development programme for women – social media graphics, videos and posters and held a photo competition. “More than 1,000 employees in five regions took part in a range of activities, with highlights including a photo competition encouraging employees around the world to submit their best pictures showcasing our diversity,” she explains. “The winning picture showed Fabiana do Nascimento Almeida at work operating machinery in our port in Brazil; she returned to work after having a baby and moves around 10,000 containers each year.”
Wightman-Beaven adds that their Global Education Programme where employees volunteer to deliver lessons in schools all over the world - giving women and girls equal access to education and work - has so far, reached over 4,500 pupils across 14 countries.
The lesson content covers a wide range of topics to engage young people in trade and logistics. One volunteer said a highlight of the lesson was ‘the excitement the school girls showed when they realised they could also become terminal operators.’
“Investing in our people is vital and women will continue to play a massive role in all we do,” she concludes. “All responsible businesses must ensure they are doing everything they can to guarantee gender equality – it means a better and fairer society, and better business.”