“A natural fit”: EDGE’s Chris Grieve explains the popular gender equality standard

19.06.2017

FLOCERT is proud to be one of only two official certifiers for the EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) standard, that has since its launch in 2011 become hugely popular with global corporates. In her guest blog, EDGE Certified Foundation's Chris Grieve talks about the natural fit between assuring fairness and gender equality:

“To explain the idea behind the EDGE standard let me wind the clock back to 2009: Gender equality had been on corporate radars for years, yet progress failed to match aspirations. Up to 96% of Fortune 500 CEOs were men; the global average pay gap between women and men stood at 17.5%; women and men were still locked into very traditional, uninterrupted full-time career paths.

Issues like unconscious bias and stereotypes about caregivers and breadwinners were stubbornly persistent.

Addressing gender inequality through a standard

Co-Founders of the EDGE Certified Foundation, Aniela Unguresan and Nicole Schwab, set out to change this by embracing a vision of a world of equal opportunities – a world where men and women are equally valued and respected in all aspects of economic, political and social life. After seeking input from experts and business leaders about the driving forces preventing equal opportunity and the evidence-base for the benefits of gender-equal workplaces, the mission of the Foundation became clear: Create and use a global standard and certification system that fosters equal opportunity for men and women in the workplace which is applicable across nations, industries and cultures. The Co-Founders launched EDGE Certification at the World Economic Forum in 2011 as a systematic, structured and business-oriented way to measure and close the workplace gender gap. It visibly rewards progress; and, as gender gaps close, delivers benefits for organizations and the people who work in them.

More than 170 organizations from 40+ countries in 22 industries have now engaged with EDGE certification. According to McKinsey's Women in the Workplace Report 2016, up to 78% of 500 companies surveyed said that commitment to gender equality is a top priority for their CEO. But, less than half of employees believe this to be true, and less than a third of employees report that leaders are held accountable. So, from our perspective, there is much work to do to bridge the gap between what leaders say and actual measurable results that positively impact people in the workplace.

Natural link between sustainability and gender equality

Gender equality is the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5. This reflects how important gender equality is for sustainability in the context of the global goals. Indeed, many say that without gender equality, achieving the remaining 16 SDGs might be impossible:

"Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance."
Kofi Annan (8th UN Secretary-General)

The interconnectedness of gender equality in the workplace with the SDGs is especially clear to us when we examine the SDGs on Decent Work & Economic Growth (#8), on Reduced Inequalities (#10) and on Sustainable Cities & Communities (#11). Working with FLOCERT to certify organizations to the EDGE Standard offers a natural fit for the EDGE Certified Foundation because of our mutual commitment to creating sustainable and fair work environments. FLOCERT has global reach and a reputation for rigour and credibility in its assurance practices. For the EDGE Certified Foundation these attributes make FLOCERT an ideal partner as we grow the EDGE certification system.

Next goals

Moving forward, the EDGE Certified Foundation is focused on significantly increasing the presence and uptake of EDGE certification. Current estimates are that as many as four million employees work in organizations that have engaged with EDGE certification. Our ambition is to reach 10 million in the next three years. We want to see those commitments to gender equality in the workplace transformed into action and results. From the client's business perspective, over the longer term, we would like to see EDGE certification become the normal way of doing business: demonstrating gender equal workplaces; delivering economic dividends for organizations and people; and offering attractive and equal opportunities for talented women and men.”

 

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Chris Grieve, EDGE Certified Foundation

Chris Grieve is EDGE Certified Foundation’s Executive Director Standards and Impacts. A keen amateur photographer, she is on a mission this year to photograph the UK’s elusive red squirrel.