Press release: Targeted actions required to increase and improve women’s work opportunities

Nearly 700 companies champion the Women’s Empowerment Principles, commit to advance gender equality, reduce discrimination and monitor progress

Date: Thursday, March 6, 2014

New York

Gender equality and women’s economic empowerment are essential drivers in expanding economies worldwide. When more women work, economies grow. As the private sector is the engine driving 90 per cent of today’s jobs, addressing chronic gender equality must be a top priority for the business community as well as other stakeholders. This was the message delivered today at the 6th Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Event, Gender Equality and the Global Jobs Challenge.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, 250 leaders from business, Government, civil society, and academia joined UN Women and the UN Global Compact in highlighting not only the challenge, but also policies, models and lessons for realizing gender equality in the workforce.

“I applaud the companies and leaders that have signed onto the Women’s Empowerment Principles. By promoting women’s equality, we make progress for all,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director. “When we empower women and girls through education and training, and support their full participation and leadership through equal opportunity, we advance equitable and inclusive economic growth and reduce poverty. It’s a win-win situation.”

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), between 45 and 50 million new jobs are needed each year over the next decade just to keep up with the growth of the world’s working age population and reduce the unemployment caused by the global financial crisis.

“Meeting the global jobs challenge with approaches that ensure fairness for women and men is central to the business, gender equality and post-2015 development agendas. Indeed, success is interdependent,” said Georg Kell, UN Global Compact Executive Director. “We’re very pleased that so many companies are embracing the WEPs and helping to expand opportunities for women in the global job market and eliminate gender job discrimination.”

Nearly 700 CEOs, representing a global group of leading corporations, have already made a public commitment to support and implement the WEPs. These organizations recognize the economic and social benefits of women’s empowerment – empowering women is not only the right thing to do, it makes sound business sense.

Companies implementing the WEPs — frequently as an outcome of their business strategy to prioritize gender equality — develop programmes to measure pay equity and promotion practices; take steps to address unconscious bias; develop family-friendly policies and practices; increase access for women and girls to science and technology education; develop products and services; and leverage their business networks to support women entrepreneurs through gender-aware procurement systems.

WEPs Leadership Awards salute five CEOs as Champions

The event also showcased the initiative’s second 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.

The companies and individuals receiving the WEPs Leadership Awards 2014 are:

  • Boyner Holding, Turkey, and Cem Boyner, Chief Executive Officer, are recognized with the WEPs Benchmarking for Change Award 2014 for embedding accountability through meaningful metrics, indicators and reporting to track and monitor the inclusion of women at all levels of operations.  
  • Pax World, USA, and Joseph Keefe, President and Chief Executive Officer, are recognized with the WEPs Business Case for Action Award 2014 for incorporating gender analysis in investment research and holding gender equality as an indicator of investment worthiness.
  • The Coca-Cola Company, a global enterprise, and Muhtar Kent, Chief Executive Officer, are recognized with the WEPs Community Engagement Award 2014 for investing along the company's value chain in women entrepreneurs, skilling up and scaling up inclusive economic empowerment for 5 million women by 2020. 
  • Wipro Limited, based in India, and T.K. Kurien, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board, are recognized with the WEPs Cultural Change for Empowerment Award 2014 for proactive commitment to gender equality throughout business operations and developing innovative programmes that respond to women's multiple responsibilities and societal expectations.
  • HCL Technologies, India, and Anant Gupta, President and Chief Executive Officer, are recognized with the 7 Principles Award 2014 for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy that integrates the WEPs principles within the company’s internal operations, while externally supporting and strengthening gender equality in its communities.  

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

About the 2014 WEPs Leadership Awards

The 6th Annual Women’s Empowerment Principles meeting features 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 showcase 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 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

More information:
  • Kristen Coco, UN Global Compact, +1 917-367-8566, +1 917-288-0787 (cell)
  • Sharon Grobeisen, UN Women,, +1 646 781-4753