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Male dominated culture won’t fix climate, racism and economic crises – UN Secretary-General warns CEOs, Government and Civil Society Leaders


UNITED NATIONS, New York, 17 March 2021 — The world needs the talent of women and men equally to solve global challenges such as racism, climate change and economic recovery from COVID, the UN Secretary-General told TARGET GENDER EQUALITY LIVE, a virtual gathering of business, civil society and government leaders, on Tuesday.

“Gender equality is essentially a question of power. We live in a male dominated world with a male dominated culture in the public and private sector alike. In the private sector women’s equal participation and leadership is both a moral duty and a business imperative. The world needs the talent and perspectives of all women to solve our biggest challenges from rebuilding the global economy to fighting systemic racism to tackling climate change,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.

More than 4,500 people participated in the first TARGET GENDER EQUALITY LIVE event organised by the UN Global Compact. Convened during the 65th Commission on the Status of Women, this interactive gathering sought to inspire and engage business and other stakeholders to take concrete action to advance gender equality at a time when concern is growing that the gender gap is widening due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Business leaders including  including Wendy Clark, CEO of Dentsu International, Michel Khalef, CEO of Metlife, Paul Polman, Co-founder of IMAGINE,  Ann Cairns, Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard, Aakanksha Bhargava, CEO of PMR, Meshvara Kanjaya, CEO of PT Supra Boga Lestari, Roberto Marques, CEO of Natura &Co, Sally Gilligan, Chief Information Officer and Head of Strategy

Gap Inc., Olukayode Pitan, CEO of Bank of Industry, Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer, Mary Kay and Cristiano Cardoso Teixeir, CEO of Klabin, discussed how the private sector can help bring down barriers to gender equality by respecting and supporting the rights of women and girls.

“We believe companies should be accountable, transparent and need to encourage women’s empowerment in business,” Roberto Marques, CEO of Natura &Co said.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Executive Director of UN Women noted that the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), established by UN Women and the UN Global Compact, provide a useful framework to guide business action.

“We have seen how adopting the WEPs has marked an important turning point in many companies. The Principles have served as signatories’ moral compass, blueprint and framework to lay out their gender equality ambitions. They have also offered access to a global network of companies with similar values. And they have helped signatories invest in their future by contributing to creating an equitable world and to removing barriers that never should have been there in the first place,” she said.

UN Global Compact CEO & Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo announced that the Target Gender Equality programme which has already helped more than 300 companies in 19 countries to set and meet ambitious targets for women’s representation and leadership, would be expanded to 45 countries.

“Through our Target Gender Equality programme, the UN Global Compact is calling on all companies to set ambitious targets for women’s representation and leadership. As this programme rolls out and expands to more countries, I am optimistic that many more businesses will take up the challenge to create systemic, holistic change,” she said.

Sessions organized by Global Compact Networks running the Target Gender Equality programme also provided an opportunity to understand the challenges and unpack the strategies and solutions needed to advance progress towards gender parity. At a session organized by Global Compact Network Kenya, Soraya Narfeldt, CEO and Chairperson of RA International, one of Africa’s leading remote site service providers, spoke about the challenges of recruiting women to non-traditional jobs and navigating cultural barriers, especially in remote communities. Kariuki Ngari, Managing Director & CEO, ‎Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Limited, highlighted the importance of setting the tone from the top and adopting robust accountability measures, noting that “In the corporate world, whatever gets measured gets done”.


Notes to Editors: 

United Nations Global Compact

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. With more than 12,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and 69 Local Networks, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative — one Global Compact uniting business for a better world.

For more information, follow @globalcompact on social media and visit our website at