Executive Management Commitment for Women’s Human Rights
This article gathers the reflections of organizations, businesses and independent consultants from the Commitment from Executive Management roundtable held in the framework of the launch in Nicaragua of the exploratory research project, “New Horizons: Social Responsibility and Women’s Human Rights in Central America,” carried out by FCAM with INTEGRARSE, uniRSE (Nicaragua), Fundemas (El Salvador) and CentraRSE (Guatemala).
The departure point was a reflection on what participants understand as women’s human rights. All agreed that to fully enjoy exercise of their rights, they must overcome machistaparadigms and practices at the individual, collective, social and structural level to which they are vulnerable as women. For women to live free from all forms of violence, to be free to decide about their lives and their bodies, and to enjoy equal conditions to men at work, in health, education, political participation, decision making, citizenship, at home and in all areas comprised by universal human rights, it is essential that discrimination cease to exist.
Reflecting on what comes to mind when discussing the commitment of executive management to women’s human rights, they shared:
“It comes down to political will and ethical commitment among executive management. It has to do with incorporating gender and human rights issues in the corporate and organizational dynamic so that it becomes a true commitment to reducing salary gaps and reducing opportunity gaps in important decision-making positions. It is also necessary to elevate the scope of the Gender Unit within the company, which is often isolated and receives minimal budget.”
“In our company – which is a multinational – there is an inclusion and a gender policy to defend human rights of all people, but putting it into practice is a two-way commitment. We have commitment from executive management, but the implementation is up to us women because we have to deal with a machista Furthermore, cultural change among men that work in the company needs to be done.”
“For me it’s the level of responsibility that we have in bringing about change. It requires a reeducation of thought, as often women focus on our rights but deep down we are rooted in machismo, too, so we have to begin to take responsibility with ourselves and from there make a change.”
“Management commitment has to do with how executive leadership and everyone in management positions provide a comprehensive focus on the issue, so that it is immersed in all of the work of the company and not just one area. Goals must be made, evaluated, and actions to change the status quo carried out. They should not only focus on percentages and number of women hired, but go beyond to include guaranteeing gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment within the company or organization.”
Some arguments that women representatives from businesses and organizations apply to motivate commitment among executive management in favor of human rights center on applying sustainability and competitivity indicators, which offer solid evidence towards improved productivity and maintaining healthy and favorable environments. Likewise, they make reference to fulfilling international agreements and treaties as part of the evidence that contribute to company reputation.
Challenges and needs were identified to achieve commitment from executive management, which include:
- Develop policies based on human rights, with a particular emphasis on women’s human rights.
- Put policies into practice through concrete actions that include trainings and awareness raising at all levels, among others.
- Allocation of resources to sustain actions over time.
- Monitoring and evaluation of actions in support of ongoing learning.
- Breaking gender stereotypes (among men as well as women) with regard to access to positions, particularly those that have been held only or primarily by men.
Roundtable participants:Holcim, Café Las Flores, Fundenic, Agora Partnerships Nicaragua, Banco Ficohsa Nicaragua, Chiles de Nicaragua, Asociación Casa Alianza Nicaragua, Wayman Tours, Constructora MECO, S.A., Transportes Zepeda, Logística de Carga Intermodal, REN, Consortium Legal, Global Water Partnership, Panadería Linda Vista #2, independent consultant. Moderator:Samantha Duarte.