ICRW and Acumen Call for Greater Gender Integration in Social Enterprises

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

Today, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Acumen released a new report to encourage entrepreneurs, impact investors and philanthropists to consider new strategies for promoting gender equality through social enterprise. The report was launched at the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society held this week in Deauville, France, where ICRW’s Allison Glinski, gender and evaluation specialist shared key findings.

In recent years, investors have turned an eye to gender lens investing, recognizing that investing in companies that have a focus on gender not only creates benefits for women but also yields high business returns. While this sector continues to grow, there has been a lack of data on the impact companies are having on women and how to effectively integrate gender into business models. To fill this gap, ICRW in collaboration with Acumen, a non-profit investing in companies that serve the poor with basic good and services, set out to study how the impact investment sector can engage with and empower women.

Produced in partnership with the Cartier Charitable Foundation, the report “Women and Social Enterprises: How Gender Integration Can Boost Entrepreneurial Solutions to Poverty,” showcases findings from several case studies, which demonstrate how social enterprises are currently engaging with women and what they can do to be more effective and impactful.

“We found that when companies want to reach more female customers and increase product usage and customer satisfaction among these female customers, they need to think about integrating gender at all levels of the company,” said Glinski who led this work. “Engaging women throughout the value chain – as customers and employees – has the potential to make social enterprises more resilient, successful and impactful.”

ICRW identified five main domains through which gender can be integrated into business processes, which include: design of the product/service; production/manufacturing; marketing; sales; and systems/structures. The report also includes a self-assessment tool, developed by ICRW experts, for enterprises so they can evaluate strengths and areas for growth in their approach to integrate gender in their business models.

The report demonstrates how integrating gender at these various levels can enhance business outcomes through enhancing employee retention, increasing sales, and improving customer satisfaction. Further, the study shows that integrating gender also enhances social outcomes by creating more gender equitable companies, empowering female employees and entrepreneurs, and enabling female customers to experience the social benefits brought about by such products and services.

Through this study, ICRW and partners aim to encourage a shift in how the social impact sector can boost entrepreneurial solutions to poverty and lead greater action through new partnerships to engage and empower women through the private sector.

For more information, see the press release and download our report.