Equileap: Leading the Way in Measuring Progress on Gender Equality

Three years ago, the United Nations launched its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Comprised of 17 goals, ranging from reducing poverty to improving access to education, this plan provides a framework for a more peaceful and prosperous world. Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) is one of many organizations across the world working to increase awareness of and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Gender equality – identified as SDG goal #5 – is one of the biggest potential drivers of peace and prosperity. According to late Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, it is not so much a goal in itself as “a pre-condition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” Too often, women and girls are denied the educational and professional advantages offered to men and boys, and are thus effectively excluded from the economy; in some countries, their legal and political rights are also limited. 

Even in more developed nations where companies and institutions are supposedly committed to gender equality, social expectations and discrimination can still keep women from achieving their full potential. So how can we tell if progress is being made on this issue?

That’s where the work of Equileap plays a role. Based in Europe, with offices in Amsterdam and London, Equileap is the global leader in providing data and insights on gender equality in the workplace. It collects data from all companies with a primary listing on a stock exchange in one of 23 developed economies around the world, and with a market capitalization of above $2 billion.

From these 3,026 companies, it develops its annual Top 200 list – a definitive ranking of how public companies across the world deliver on commitments to gender equality. The rankings are based on criteria such as gender balance in the workforce, promotion and career development opportunities, and policies aimed at improving equality such as providing adequate parental leave. 

The 2018 Top 200 report contains mixed insights for US readers. General Motors took first place overall, with a score of 71%. General Motors was also one of only two companies in the whole ranking that could demonstrate both gender equality in its pay bands, and no overall gender pay gap. North America as a whole had the highest percentage of women in executive roles in any region.

North American companies also tended to score better on policies to protect their staff and supply chains, with supplier diversity agreements and measures to protect staff from sexual harassment. However, the average score for US companies was just 36%, and only 11% of American companies eligible for Equileap’s analysis made the Top 200 at all.

Using the Top 200, Equileap’s co-founders Diana van Maasdijk and Jo Andrews aim to accelerate gender equality at work, which they believe will help positive economic change happen faster across the world. 

Without conscious changes by businesses and governments, equality will be a long term effort. Just last year, the World Economic Forum predicted that it will take 217 years to end pay and employment disparities between men and women, and that closing the gender gap on access to healthcare, education and political participation will take a century.

Whilst these numbers can seem discouraging, Equileap’s data is starting to make a real difference. Women starting out on their career journey may be influenced to choose a profession based on its performance – communications, financial and utilities are Equileap’s best sectors for female employees. Companies are using the data to improve their policies – the technology sector has boosted its score by 11 percentage points since last year, achieving 14% in 2018.  And with more than $600m in investment funds powered by their data, a growing number of investors are using Equileap as a tool to make more sustainable and responsible investment decisions.

The road to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals may not be smooth, but Equileap is spurring companies on to make gender equality a reality.

Article written by Alice Krainock on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association. All images sourced from Equileap.