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By Ron Grey, Ph.D. Senior Vice President, Great Place to Work

Organizations that foster inclusive cultures tend to be more innovative and outperform their competition by exceeding revenue growth targets, enhancing customer service, retaining more talent and much more. We call this winning formula Innovation by All. Increasingly, we see gender equality and women’s empowerment as vital ingredients to inclusive innovation.

Recent research by Great Place to Work in support of the WE EMPOWER programme of UN Women, European Union and the International Labour Organization has identified significant empirical links between inclusive cultures, women’s empowerment, innovation and business success.

Based on 63,000 employee responses to GPTW’s Trust Index survey at over 300 organizations in Canada, employers with the strongest cultures for Innovation by All experienced by women achieve:

  • 4x faster year-over-year revenue growth
  • 3.8x less voluntary staff turnover
  • 1.3x greater perceived customer service
  • 2x more meaningful opportunities for women to innovate at work

Implementing Women’s Empowerment Principles

GPTW’s research highlights key impacts of implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles developed by UN Women and UN Global Compact for advancing women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality

Senior level corporate leadership is instrumental to creating inclusive cultures for Innovation by All. Senior leadership sets and reinforces the tone for empowering and engaging women in innovation and leveraging their contributions to business success and meeting key stakeholders’ expectations.

  • Women who feel their leaders fully embody their organizations’ best characteristics are 16x more likely to see a strong culture for Innovation by All.
  • Innovation by All is experienced by an even greater multiple of 41x by women who see their leaders as being highly competent in running the business.
  • Women who perceive clear and direct communication from management are over 10x more likely to experience a strong culture for Innovation by All.
  • Upward communication is particularly key to promoting a strong culture of Innovation by All. Women who feel their leaders are approachable and easy to talk with are 16x more likely to experience a strong culture for Innovation by All.

Principle 2: Treat all women and men fairly at work – Respect and support human rights and non-discrimination

Women in organizational cultures who experience fair treatment, are respected as individuals and feel more supported in their work also feel more empowered, engaged and equipped to innovate and contribute to corporate success than their counterparts elsewhere.

  • Women who feel all employees are treated fairly, regardless of their gender, are 20x more likely to see a strong culture for Innovation by All than those who perceive unfair treatment.
  • In organizations that demonstrate genuine respect for employees as individuals and not just employees, women are 8.3x more likely to experience a strong culture for Innovation by All.
  • Organizations that encourage strong work-life balance further promote cultures for innovation that are 9.5x greater than elsewhere.
  • Women who feel well supported with the necessary resources and equipment are 13x more likely to experience a strong culture for Innovation by All.
  • Women who perceive non-judgmental management styles are 16x more likely to innovate, while those who feel appreciated feel 11x more likely.

Principle 3: Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all female and male employees

Organizations where women experience psychologically, emotionally and physically safe workplaces are much more conducive to promoting inclusive and Innovative Workplaces by All.

  • Women who experience psychologically and emotionally healthy workplaces are 11x more likely to see a strong culture for Innovation by All than those who don’t.
  • Even more significantly, women who experience a physically safe workplace are 83x more likely to see a strong innovation culture.

Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women

Providing women with enriched opportunities for education, training and professional development is instrumental to promoting inclusive cultures for Innovation by All. Both formal and informal opportunities and on-the-job experience are important.

  • Women who perceive strong training and development opportunities to advance themselves are 11x more likely to see a strong culture for Innovation by All.
  • Further contributing to women’s motivation to innovate are strong delegation and assuring promotions go to those most deserving.

Principle 5: Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy

Showcasing strong organizational commitment to gender equality, inclusiveness and women’s empowerment in the community and with key stakeholders fosters outstanding employee engagement and cultures of Innovation by All.

  • Women who are strong advocates or ambassadors for their organizations are 16x more likely to be highly engaged in corporate innovation.
  • Women who feel good about how their employers contribute to the community are 20x more engaged!

Want to learn more? Download the report, Empowering Women for Innovation and Business Success.


Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s Editorial Department was not involved in its creation.