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Global economic parity for women stands at 68%

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      By Erica Lasdon, ESG Senior Analyst, Calvert Research and Management

      Washington - In its twelfth year, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report (2018) found an average worldwide gender-parity gap of 32%, a marginal improvement over 2017. The largest disparity between men and women remains in the areas of political empowerment and economic opportunity.1 Overall improvement occurred in 89 of the 144 countries covered in both 2017 and 2018.

      The Global Gender Gap Index was first introduced as a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender-based disparities worldwide and tracking their progress over time. The 2018 report benchmarks the progress of 149 countries across the four categories that comprise the Index: economic participation and opportunity (with a gap of 41%), education (5%), health and survival (4%) and political empowerment (78%).

      Calvert Blog 3-5-19A

      Nordic countries lead the pack

      All eight geographical regions assessed in the report have achieved at least 60% gender parity. Western Europe leads with 75.8% gender parity, North America is second (at 72.5%) and Latin America is third (70.8%). On a country basis, Nordic countries took the top four spots, led by Iceland and Norway. The U.S. fell two places, to 51 out of 149 countries, mainly due to its still-low political empowerment score.

      Calvert Blog 3-5-19b

      Closing the gaps

      The greatest global challenges remain in the areas of economics and politics. Across the 149 countries assessed, just 17 have women as heads of state, while, on average, just 18% of ministers and 24% of parliamentarians globally are women. Similarly, women hold just 34% of managerial positions across countries where data is available. On a brighter note, there are 23 countries where there are at least 40% of women in managerial positions.

      At 78%, the political gap is slightly worse than last year's score of 77%. The gaps for health and education remain just 4% and 5%, respectively. At the current pace of progress, the report estimates the overall global gender gap can be closed in 108 years. By region, estimates vary, including 61 years to close the gap in Western Europe, 70 years in South Asia, 74 years in Latin America and the Caribbean, 153 years in the Middle East and North Africa, and 165 years in North America.

      Implications for investors

      World Economic Forum research states that "female talent remains one of the most underutilized business resources," with women, on average, more highly educated than men.2 As nations and businesses increasingly rely on innovative talent and skills to remain competitive, the integration of women into the talent pool and executive pipeline becomes imperative, the report states.

      Calvert has long believed that diversity makes a material difference to business success. Responsible investment strategies often include examining a company's diversity and gender policies, and these have been a focus at Calvert for more than a decade.

      The Calvert Women's Principles were established in partnership with the United Nations in 2004. Today, they remain a model widely adopted by businesses and organizations worldwide for empowering and advancing women in the workplace.

      Bottom line: Female talent remains an important underutilized business resource, and that may materially affect a company's prospects. Responsible investment strategies typically assess diversity and gender issues in their investment decision-making.