Goal 5: Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. However, there are still millions of women all over the globe who are experiencing some sort of discrimination and/or violence. The good news is that progress is being made. Providing equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will ultimately fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. Through initiatives enabled by technology, women are starting to gain the most basic rights, such as access to the Internet, financial inclusion, and entrepreneurial prowess.

Giving women a voice in the fight for their rights

Transformation of today’s workforce, requires strategies to ensure that women and minorities are considered fairly and equitably across all dimensions of the career lifecycle. Society and organization must focus on removing bias embedded in institutions, processes, and culture. This is where the United Nations (UN) and its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 5 come into play. It is specifically targeted toward ending discrimination against women and girls throughout the world. As the UN notes, “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.”

When the world succeeds in achieving this goal by its target date 2030, women would no longer experience extreme violence, such as trafficking and sexual exploitation. Harmful practices such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation would end. Women would have universal access to sexual and reproductive health information, and they would have equal rights to economic resources. Technology would promote the empowerment of women everywhere.

Empowering women one step at a time

Progress is being made in all aspects of women’s and girls’ lives – including the area of economic and business empowerment. Through initiatives like the ones here, women are starting to gain the most basic rights, such as access to the Internet, financial inclusion, and entrepreneurial empowerment.

Closing the gender gap in Internet usage

The World Wide Web Foundation and Women’s Rights Online (WRO) network found that women in poor urban areas of developing countries are 50% less likely to use the Internet than men living in the same communities. The 2018 report also found that women are 30%–50% less likely to use the Internet to increase their income or participate in public life.

Lack of Internet access is a way of keeping women systematically underserved, according to NetHope. This organization creates collaborations between nonprofit organizations and technology companies to serve populations in developing countries. NetHope and its partners created the Women and the Web Alliance, with the goal of introducing more than 600,000 15- to 25-year-old Kenyan and Nigerian women and girls to the Internet to advance their social and economic empowerment. In addition, the initiative aims to support 540,000 women with online e-learning and mentoring programs.

Eradicating financial exclusion

Data from the World Bank suggests that approximately 2 billion people do not have a formal account at a financial institution, and only 59% of women have a bank account versus 67% of men. To counteract this kind of inequality, Compartamos Banco opened its doors in 1990 to provide financing to female small business owners with low incomes. Today, more than 90% of the bank’s 2.8 million clients in Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru are women. With tools such as loans, savings accounts, insurance, and financial education, the bank hopes to give the women it serves what they need to have a better quality of life.

Enabling entrepreneurial empowerment

The shea nut sector in Ghana offers opportunities for economically viable inclusive business models that generate income and employment for an estimated number of 900,000 rural women. Producing shea nut products can be an arduous task, especially without the right education or the right financial tools. Such was the case in northern Ghana, where generations of rural women manually processed these nuts into butter for cooking and health products, until several years ago when the StarShea Network was formed.

The network is a federation of rural women’s groups in northern Ghana that harvest and process shea nuts and butter. It provides information technology, education, and microfinancing to the women so they can conduct business independently and sustainably. Through mobile technology, these women receive transparency on current market prices so they can sell their products competitively to global customers. They also have the technology to scan personalized bar-code labels on each shea nut sack to track individual production and storage details.

SAP is doing its part

SAP is also doing its part in eliminating gender inequality in support of its purpose, to help the world run better and improve people’s lives:

  • In 2019, SAP was selected as one of 230 companies for the 2019 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI), which distinguishes companies committed to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality. SAP was included once again in 2020.
  • To target inequity in workplaces around the world, SAP is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect and help eliminate bias at every decision point, from hiring through succession. For example, the job analyzer functionality embedded within the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting Management solution helps organizations craft effective, competitive job descriptions and eliminate unconscious bias in recruiting.
  • SAP became the first multinational technology company to be awarded with the global gender equality certification from the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) organization. This is the premier standard and methodology for evaluating corporate commitment to gender equality launched at the World Economic Forum. Two years later, we were recertified. We aim to lead the tech industry in opportunities for women and support STEM-related initiatives, including the European Center for Women and Technology, Girls Who Code, Girl Smarts, and TechGirlz.
  • Together with SAP, Terex Corporation, a leading heavy equipment manufacturer, is unifying HR and engaging employees to build a manufacturing business beyond bias. By putting diversity and inclusion at the heart of its global talent management strategy, Terex is onboarding more women, veterans, and other underrepresented talent. To support this mission, simplify and streamline HR-related activities, and increase engagement, Terex chose SAP SuccessFactors solutions.
  • Our company has a multitude of programs and activities aimed at supporting female talent. We are increasing the number of women in leadership positions through initiatives such as a monthly Women’s Professional Growth Webinar Series, which has reached more than 6,800 employees in 43 countries. Based on the wide range of programs, SAP was able to achieve its target of 25% women in leadership in mid-2017, and we are making progress toward our goal to reach 30% by 2022.
  • SAP Executive Board member Adaire Fox-Martin focused on social enterprises with the One Billion Lives initiative which examines the challenges and potential solutions facing those who seek to make a positive difference in the world. American actress Natalie Portman has posed the following question: How can businesses work innovatively and think creatively to avoid bias? Social Enterprise UK reports that 41% of social enterprises are led by women and over half (51%) have a majority female workforce – could social enterprise be the future of equal opportunity employment?
  • Furthermore, SAP started systematically closing the pay gap between male and female employees and is working to ensure that all employees are treated fairly.
  • The SAP Women Forward program is committed to gender equality, enabling change, and driving a level of diversity of thought, engagement with customers and purchase consideration. SAP Next-Gen also connects universities and its purpose partners to The Female Quotient and its FQ Lounge: Home of Equality On Campus program. In May 2019, SAP and The Female Quotient together launched the FQ app. Built on the SAP Cloud Platform, the FQ app provides a platform for connection and collaboration among next-generation female leaders. It enables them to join events, draw inspiration from curated content on advancing equality and inclusion, locate a nearby FQ Lounge on campus, and access skills trainings on STEM topics.
  • SAP SuccessFactors, Rebecca Minkoff LLC, and Female Founder Collective are teaming up to help recognize leaders and organizations who are making the world more sustainable and advancing the goals of gender equity and diversity. The Female Founder Collective is a network of businesses led by women, supporting women. Their mission is to enable and empower female owned and led businesses to positively impact our communities, both socially and economically.

To increase awareness and inspire continuous change, SAP is additionally harnessing the power of Big Data. Utilizing technology such as SAP HANA, the Data for Good initiative is a series of data visualization articles focused on the UN SDGs. For Goal #5, which is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,” these interactive data visualizations are created by analyzing hundreds of complex data sets gathered from government agencies and social organizations. They help to facilitate a data-driven discussion of the SDGs and viable solutions while encouraging readers to interact with the data.

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