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This report provides an overview of an exploration of gender-forward business practices for digital platforms through Value for Women’s Gender Lens Survey that was adapted and piloted to assess the performance of digital platforms in a scalable, accessible, and engaging way.
A gender-forward business is defined as one that intentionally seeks to address gender inequalities by providing goods and services that close gender gaps or meet the needs of women or girls; supports gender diversity through internal policies and practices in the workplace; and/or strengthens inclusion and diversity along the value chain.
Gender-forward business practices are the strategies, approaches, and practices that such businesses use to address gender inequalities.
In this report, Value for Women explores what gender-forward business practices might look like for digital platforms, specifically:
This issue is not only meaningful from an ethical and human rights point of view, but has tangible implications for businesses’ bottom line. Businesses with more gender-diverse leadership tend to outperform their peers financially and benefit from increased innovation.Through better serving women as customers, businesses stand to increase their sales and income—a difference especially relevant to digital platforms, as women customers are more likely to stick to online shopping once converted.
Finally, by focusing on women as workers or e-commerce sellers, digital platforms stand to increase revenue through those users; estimates show that African e-commerce can increase by US$15 billion by 2030 if the activities of women sellers are increased to match those of men.
Accompanying the individual, country-level insights derived from interviews with women platform workers in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria, Value for Women examined possible strategies for increasing the levels of gender inclusion, and thus potential for gender equality, from the perspective of digital platforms themselves.
We worked with seven platforms in Kenya and Nigeria to understand their gender-forward intentions as well as practices. An online survey guides platforms through questions about their business practices, including
1) overall strategy and gender commitment;
2) leadership, workforce, and HR;
3) market research, product development, marketing, and sales;
4) customer finance, service, and support;
5) worker attraction, retention, and support; and
6) the use of sex-disaggregated data.
Following completion of the survey, each respondent receives a personalized report with an overall gender inclusion score, scores per business area, and directly applicable recommendations for more gender-inclusive business practices.
Answers from platforms generally indicate an understanding of the importance of gender equality overall and articulate, in principle, a commitment to contributing to greater gender equality. However, these ambitions are generally not backed up with practical policies, practices, or strategies.
Based on these findings, this report recommends four initial steps toward more gender- forward business practices digital platforms should focus on. These are considered low-hanging fruit, as they represent a relatively limited departure from current practices and can be achieved with relatively limited resources. These recommendations include:
Finally, for ecosystem stakeholders (either working with, influencing, or supporting digital platforms), recommendations include:
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