Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) has become the first major South African retailer to be a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Women Empowerment Principles. WHL announced the news on International Women's Day, observed today on 8 March.
Source: Reuters/Mike Hutching
Developed in partnership with the United Nations Women and the UN Global Compact Office, the Women Empowerment Principles (WEP) are a set of seven guidelines that offer direction to companies on how to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in the workplace and in communities.
WHL group CEO, Roy Bagattini, said, "We are very proud to be a signatory to the Women Empowerment Principles. It is particularly significant that this has taken place today, International Women’s Day. As we know, International Women’s Day is an opportunity for the global community to acknowledge the tremendous value and importance of gender equality and a world free of bias and discrimination. We believe that, as an organisation, we have a profound responsibility to be an agent for positive change, both within the workplace and within society at large.
"As a Group, through our Inclusive Justice Initiative, we are striving to address all forms of discrimination and injustice. To this end, we are driving programmes aimed at building an organisation that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, with a very specific focus on inclusive justice for women. We acknowledge that this is a journey of listening and learning and, while we don’t have all the answers, we are deeply committed to taking actions that will have a positive and enduring impact across our organisation and within our communities."
Fostering business practices that empower women
Established in 2010, the WEP are informed by international labour and human rights standards and grounded in the recognition that businesses have a stake in, and a responsibility for, gender equality and women’s empowerment. The WEPs are a framework to guide organisations on the delivery on gender equality dimensions of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
By joining the UN Women community, WHL said the company signals its commitment to this important agenda and to working collaboratively within multi-stakeholder networks to foster business practices that empower women. These include pay equality, gender-inclusive supply chain practices and zero tolerance against sexual harassment in the workplace.
In 2013, WHL signed up for the UN Global Compact signifying its support of and respect for human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. "This undertaking now to the UN Women Empowerment Principles further solidifies WHL’s commitment to ensuring an equal and inclusive environment for its people, partners, and customers," the company said.