Fostering a More Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Workplace

March 7, 2024 EcoVadis EN

International Women's Day is an opportunity to reflect on collective progress toward building more equitable organizations and value chains. Our annual Sustain conference – happening now – is bringing together business leaders from across our network and beyond to do just that. Through keynote addresses, speaker panels and workshops, Sustain explores the spectrum of sustainability challenges and opportunities shaping the business landscape. This year's conference will feature a greater gender diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens than ever before. 

How We're Leading From the Front 

At EcoVadis, we believe that building an equitable organization is essential to helping companies in our network do the same – in their value chains or own operations. Our team is committed to gender equality in the recruitment, training, remuneration and promotion processes. We aim for a balanced representation of genders on all levels of the organization and in all departments. Last but not least, we believe in a career that adapts to life.

Our commitments:

  • Maintain 45 – 55% women representation among employees and managers by 2026.

  • Reach 40% women representation at executive and board level by 2028.

  • Maintain a gender pay gap of less than 1%.

We also strive to work with partners who best represent us and our values – like Divya Demato, CEO & co-founder of GoodOps and a long-time EcoVadis consultancy partner. Divya has been collaborating with EcoVadis for several years, including judging awards applications and speaking as a panelist at Sustain, speaking on the EcoVadis podcast and contributing thought leadership content to the EcoVadis blog. As a business leader who assesses corporate DEI performance, Divya has a unique view of how EcoVadis leads on DEI through strategic partnerships.

“EcoVadis continues to be an amazing partner to me through the years,” she said. “They’ve continuously found ways to highlight my work and support me in my journey. So, that’s just a first-hand experience that I’m very grateful for and I’m excited to continue with them.”

A Sustainable Drive Towards Gender Equity

At Sustain 2024 (March 11-12), we are encouraged to have a balanced representation of genders across session types – an unequivocal sign that our efforts to drive a more equitable and inclusive attendee experience continue to bear fruit. Some numbers at a glance: 

  • 66% women in the awards jury

  • 60% women moderating different sessions

  • 53% women at break-out sessions

  • 50% women at C-level panels

Representation at Sustain is just a microcosm of how EcoVadis strives for an inclusive and equitable approach to sustainability – across the company and within its network. It’s a sentiment shared by Sarah O’Brien, strategic advisor at the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council and another awards judge.

“I think that visible leadership by women is important,” she said. “It's important to model women being part of leadership decisions. The awards process is no different. [After all], EcoVadis is built around sustainability; sustainability includes gender equity. It makes sense that the judging panel would include people with long experience in the field; and since many of those people are women, that we might include a majority of women.”

Driving Progress in More Equitable Practices Across Supply Chains

A sneak peek at some key figures in our latest Network Impact Report reveals more than 10,000 companies are reporting metrics on DEI efforts, and 8,500 are taking actions to promote wage equality – these figures are increasing year on year. 

More than 20,000 companies reported the percentage of women in their organization in 2022 – a 45% increase over the previous year. Although reporting remains pending for 2023, we expect the trend to continue.

Sarah said that after poring over many Sustain award submissions, fact checking and reviewing, it’s clear that many companies within the EcoVadis network are working to drive supplier diversity – in particular, by sourcing from women-owned businesses. 

“I think that looking within gender equity and fairness in the workplace probably is an area that is still growing and maturing in terms of EcoVadis questionnaires and supplier involvement,” she said. These social factors, which seem to change from day to day, are also harder to assess than hard product or scientific data, such as whether or not a company product contains a certain chemical or has a specific carbon footprint.

Despite the challenges of gaining accurate data on gender equity throughout supply chains, our judges see first-hand the progress women have made, and reasons to be optimistic. 

“I think that for many years, this has been a very strong space for women,” said O’Brien. “Women have been leaders in sustainability, both on the advocacy and sustainable business side. I know, with over 20 years of working with very large global corporations, often the sustainability team is majority or even primarily women.”

For Divya, sustainability isn’t necessarily a women-only issue – it should be everyone’s responsibility. And unless women in leadership roles, such as the chief supply chain officer, have the authority to drive sustainable change, we’re not going to make as much progress as we’d like. 

“It comes down to power – decision making,” she said. “I commend those organizations that have women in leadership roles who have all the authority they need to be able to drive those agendas. But, there are organizations that put women in those roles, but it’s an all-male, white-male C-suite, and they say, ‘Look! We have this one woman here.’ Anyone who’s looking can see it right away.”

We’re excited, and humbled, to be leading the charge on driving gender equity within procurement and sustainability, and helping companies foster more equitable and inclusive workplaces for women. As much progress as we’ve made on this front, we’re nowhere near done. 

Check out our sessions at Sustain 2024 and learn more about how we’re supporting the effort to elevate women in leadership roles and drive business sustainability even higher. Click here to register.

About the Author

EcoVadis EN

EcoVadis is a purpose-driven company whose mission is to provide the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings. Businesses of all sizes rely on EcoVadis’ expert intelligence and evidence-based ratings to manage risk and compliance, drive decarbonization, and improve the sustainability performance of their business and value chain. Its AI-powered risk mapping, actionable scorecards, benchmarks, carbon action tools, and insights guide a resilience and improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices across 200 industry categories and 175 countries.

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