The Women's Empowerment Principles offer seven steps to guide business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. Subtitled Equality Means Business, the Principles emphasize the businesscase for corporate action to promote gender equality and women's empowerment and are informed by real-life business practices and input gathered from across the globe. Rather than being prescriptive or a new initiative to which business is asked to subscribe, the WEPs seek to point the way to best practice by elaborating the gender dimension of good corporate citizenship, the UN Global Compact, and business' role in sustainable development. Learn more.
The WEPs are the result of a collaboration between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and are adapted from the Calvert Women's Principles®. The Calvert Women's Principles were originally developed in partnership with UNIFEM (now part of UN Women) and launched in 2004 as the first global corporate code of conduct focused exclusively on empowering, advancing and investing in women worldwide.
The Women's Empowerment Principles were developed through a year-long international multi-stakeholder consultation process and launched to the global community on International Women's Day 2010 (8 March). Learn more.
The WEPs were primarily developed for the business community. However, other civil society stakeholders, international organizations and governments have embraced the WEPs as a tool for engaging with the private sector and a reference point for reviewing their own policies and practices related to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a platform and used as input to policy. They are being utilized as a basis for dialogue and action to advance and empower women. Learn more.
The CEO Statement of Support for the Women's Empowerment Principles offers business leaders an opportunity to signal their support for the overall goal of advancing and empowering women and specifically, the guidance offered by the WEPs. It also provides a platform for corporate executives to encourage fellow business leaders to support the Principles by signing the Statement. Signers of the CEO Statement underscore that equal treatment of women and men is not just the right thing to do—it is also good for business and should be a corporate priority.
The Principles were developed as a voluntary framework and resource for companies dedicated to advancing gender equality. Signing the CEO Statement of Support does not constitute any type of binding obligation. However, signing the CEO Statement is a great way to demonstrate the first Principle, which is: “Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality”, and it has now been signed by over 550 chief executives of companies around the world. Learn more.
The WEPs Partnership is grateful for financial and in-kind support from the businesses and other organizations. Learn more.
The current list of signers is available here.
The list of the 39 lead signers of the CEO Statement can be viewed here.
The CEO Statement of Support encourages business leaders to use the seven Principles as guideposts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, and communicate progress through the use of sex-disaggregated data and other benchmarks. UN Women and the UN Global Compact Office will continue to provide opportunities for companies to share experiences, expertise and knowledge and to work together via a virtual network of interested persons' and an annual Women's Empowerment Principles event in New York City scheduled to coincide with International Women's Day in March. The WEPs team strives to bring opportunities and resources to increase knowledge and engagement.
No, all companies, from all sectors and regions of the world are invited to sign the CEO Statement of Support. Signers represent the largest companies and some quite small businesses. However, all companies are encouraged to consider participating in the Global Compact to broaden their understanding of corporate sustainability.
The WEPs are a tool available to all companies free of charge. Global Compact participants that sign the CEO Statement of Support automatically contribute to the growth and sustainability of the WEPs initiative through their annual contribution to the Global Compact, which provides the Secretariat for the Women's Empowerment Principles. Companies that are not currently participants in the Global Compact are encouraged to consider joining in an effort to broaden their understanding and approach to corporate sustainability. For information on how to participate in the Global Compact, please see here or contact Lauren Gula ([email protected]).
Alternatively, companies that are not participants in the Global Compact, but are interested in signing the CEO Statement of Support for the Women's Empowerment Principle, are encouraged to make an annual contribution to help support the activities and efforts of the Women's Empowerment Principles initiative at the global level. Suggested annual contributions are USD 5,000 for large companies*, USD 2,500 for medium sized companies** and USD 500 for small companies. Annual contributions are payable to the Foundation for the Global Compact. Please indicate if the Foundation may send the indicated contact person an invoice and, if so, for what amount. If your company would like to make an in-kind contribution, please contact Lauren Gula ([email protected]).
* A large company has > USD 250 million in annual sales/revenue
** A medium sized company has between USD 50 million and USD 250 million in annual sales/revenue
There is no formal reporting or disclosure requirement associated with signing the CEO Statement. However, since the importance of results and impact cannot be overstated, companies are strongly encouraged to set specific benchmarks and targets for progress towards gender equality and to use sex-disaggregated data when possible to report on progress to their stakeholders and many companies are doing just that.
In response to requests from companies for further guidance and suggestions on how to track and report on progress towards implementation, the WEPs partnership team launched WEPs-specific reporting guidance that takes into consideration the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework and the UN Global Compact Communication on Progress (COP) requirement. The Guidance has been now updated to align with new GRI G4 guidelines. Learn more.
Further, as of 1 October 2014, UN Global Compact participants that have signed the CEO Statement of Support for the WEPs will now have the opportunity to answer four new gender specific questions when submitting their COP. These questions will provide an avenue for companies to transparently disclose their efforts around women’s empowerment and gender equality, while also communicating their progress in applying the Principles. To learn more about these new questions, please view our presentation and recording here. For additional questions, please contact Danielle Leavy ([email protected]).
If a new CEO is appointed to the company, it is assumed that she/he will carry on the work of her/his predecessor and uphold the company's commitment to promote and implement the Women's Empowerment Principles. Therefore, it is not necessary to fill out a new form. However, we ask that when a change in leadership takes place that notification is sent to the WEPs team so that the CEO list can be updated accordingly. Of course, if a new CEO would like to sign to reaffirm the company's commitment to the goals of the WEPs, and provide a new leadership quote, she/he is very welcome to do so.
While the CEO Statement of Support is strictly for signature by leaders of corporate entities, civil society leaders - including heads of business associations, non-governmental organizations, human rights organizations, women's organizations and academic institutions - are invited to demonstrate their support for the Women's Empowerment Principles and encourage business leaders to implement the Principles by making the WEPs part of a programmatic approach to engagement with the private sector, as well as with government leaders, the UN and other advocates.
For further information on how to engage the WEPs, please visit Get Involved.