News and Events

With 550 Corporate Champions, Women’s Empowerment Principles Drive Critical Private Sector Change to Advance Gender Equality and Inclusion

Posted on 03/06/2013

Inaugural WEPs Leadership Awards Salute Five CEOs as Champions

(New York, 6 March 2013) – Bolstered by nearly 550 chief executive supporters around the world, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, highlighted the urgency to achieve gender balance at all levels of business operations at today’s 5th Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Event, Inclusion: Strategy for Change.  

Honouring International Women’s Day, 250 business leaders and representatives from civil society, governments and the UN marked the third anniversary of the WEPs, a partnership of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, which provides a roadmap for business to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. Citing the pressing expectations of the Millennial Generation – those entering the workforce since 2000 – speakers emphasized the importance of delivering comprehensive change that benefits both women and men, while equipping business to build the strongest possible talent pool, enhance opportunities for women suppliers and account for community needs.  

“We need to support women’s leadership and equal opportunity because this is good for women, and it is good for democracy and a healthy and productive society,” said UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet. She also referred to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women meeting held simultaneously at the United Nations, which is focused on ending violence against women. “The 21st century has no place for violence and discrimination against women. We need all segments of society to come together to promote zero tolerance, including in the workplace. I applaud our private sector partners that promote these values and set an example for others.”

This year’s event launched the initiative’s first WEPs Leadership Awards to salute CEOs for their exceptional championship of gender equality and support for the seven principles, in particular Principle One, which urges companies to establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality. 

“If we are to truly achieve a sustainable and inclusive global market, business must implement a range of tailored strategies and actions to achieve measurable impacts for women and men, girls and boys,” said Georg Kell, UN Global Compact Executive Director. “The companies highlighted today demonstrate that implementing the WEPs and advancing gender equality is possible through corporate leadership and innovative programmes that create change not only within their own organizations, but throughout the value chain.”

The companies and individuals receiving the 2013 WEPs Leadership Awards are:

  • The Bank of New Zealand and Andrew Thorburn, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, are recognized with the WEPs Benchmarking for Change Award 2013 for its comprehensive approach towards tackling what it identified as its greatest challenge:  to increase representation by women at the middle to senior leadership and management levels.

  • Taj, based in France and a member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., and Gianmarco Monsellato, Chief Executive Officer, are recognized with the WEPs Business Case for Action Award 2013 for its drive to reach market leader status through a coordinated, eight-year-long strategy that required implementing innovative broad-based policies to drive gender diversity and transform the company’s culture.

  • Dean's Beans Organic Coffee, USA, and Dean Cycon, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, are recognized with the WEPs Community Engagement Award 2013 for its record of community engagement by empowering coffee growers, primarily women, to improve their lives and their children’s futures.

  • MAS Holdings, Sri Lanka, and Mahesh Dayalal Amalean, Chairman, are recognized with the WEPs Cultural Change for Empowerment Award 2013 for MAS Women Go Beyond, a distinctive programme established in 2003 that challenges the accepted norms of garment industry employment for women in Sri Lanka and the South Asia region.

  • Itaipu Binacional, Brazil, and Jorge Miguel Samek, Brazilian General Director, are recognized with the 7 Principles Award 2013 for developing and launching its Guidelines of Gender Equality, a policy designed in 2011 to strengthen and enhance gender equality and combat poverty among women in Brazil and Paraguay. 

Based on the strength of the nominations, the WEPs also recognized three chief executives and companies with an Honour Roll designation:  Anant Gupta, CEO, HCL Technologies, India; Hisayuki Suekawa, Representative Director, President and CEO, Shiseido Company Limited, Japan; and Nur Ger, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Suteks Tekstil, Turkey.

As a result the growing support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a number of national WEPs stakeholder groups have formed in countries as diverse as Japan, Serbia, Australia, South Africa, Switzerland, Vietnam, New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Turkey, among others.  These multi-stakeholder groups develop projects to implement the WEPs for their context.

About the Women’s Empowerment Principles
The Women's Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact. The Principles outline seven steps for business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The Principles highlight that empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity is essential to build strong economies; establish more stable and just societies; achieve internationally agreed goals for development, sustainability, and human rights; improve quality of life for women, men, families and communities; and propel business' operations and goals. Learn more at www.weprinciples.org

About the 2013 WEPs Leadership Awards
The 5th Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles meeting inaugurates the WEPs Leadership Award to salute CEO commitment and innovation to realize gender equality. The Awards highlight concrete and innovative actions taken to advance the 7 Principles, and particularly showcases Principle One: Leadership Promotes Gender Equality. The WEPs Leadership Awards Committee is comprised of members of the WEPs Leadership Group, a multi-stakeholder volunteer body that provides strategic guidance to the WEPs partnership of the UN Women and the UN Global Compact. It represents business, academia, civil society, women’s organizations and international institutions. For complete information about the Awards, winners and Awards Committee, please visit www.weprinciples.unglobalcompact.org/site/WEPsLeadershipAwards.

Media Contacts
Kristen Coco     
UN Global Compact     
[email protected]     
+1 917-367-8566, +1 917-288-0787 (cell) 

Oisika Chakrabarti
UN Women
[email protected]
+1 646-781-4522