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21 June 2016 | By Justine Greening MP Community

Tearing down global barriers for women

Businesses are at the frontline of women’s economic empowerment – and the Secretary of State for International Development wants to hear your experiences

Of all the business-boosting ideas that fill consultancy manuals and MBA textbooks there is one that could be a game changer for the global economy: women’s economic empowerment. From the World Economic Forum to the Harvard Business Review, leading economists have shown that businesses with more women at the top are performing better than companies that lack diversity.

The research is compelling – firms with the best record for promoting women to high positions have up to 69 per cent more profitability and command average earnings 55 per cent higher than their competitors.

But smashing the glass ceiling won’t just be good for your business. McKinsey estimates that if women played an identical role in labour markets to men an extra $28trn would be added to the global economy – that would give a massive boost of 26 per cent on global GDP.

In many of the world’s poorest countries this would be enough of an economic stimulus to pull millions out of extreme poverty and create countless new markets for Britain to trade with. Put simply, women’s economic empowerment is the best poverty tackling strategy out there.

But around the world, too many women are still locked out of the economy. In 17 countries a woman needs her husband’s permission before she can go out and work and in 34 countries women do not have the same inheritance rights as men.

From the simple right to open a bank account to securing a seat in the boardroom, too many women still face significant barriers that stop them from reaching their full potential.

Searching for ideas

Even here in the UK we still have a long way to go before we achieve true gender equality in the workplace. Despite real progress over the past few years, driven in part by the CBI and its members, there are still just five female CEOs of FTSE100 companies.

I’m part of a new United Nations panel that wants to tear down these barriers, giving more women across the globe the chance to earn a fair living for themselves and their families.

As part of the work of this panel, the UN is leading a global consultation asking millions of people around the world for their ideas to boost women’s economic empowerment.

This is where you come in.

We know it is businesses that face the frontline practicalities of getting more women into work, whether it’s here in the UK, or across your international operations.

That’s why I want the world-class businesses that make up the CBI to feed in their experience and ideas to this consultation.

Take this 5 minute survey and let us know both the challenges and successes your business has seen in getting more women working.

And the return on your investment? A world where more women get their right to work, where more talent is unlocked and where better business is done. It’s a win-win for us all.