WBCSD launches mentorship programme to develop women leaders in sustainability

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has launched a new programme to help women reach senior positions in companies and lead on embedding sustainability across entire corporate strategies.

The WBCSD will partner with a business school in Spain, ESADE, to deliver the LEAP programme

The WBCSD will partner with a business school in Spain, ESADE, to deliver the LEAP programme

The WBCSD unveiled its LEAP programme on Monday (18 November). It encourages companies to propose a female manager and a mentor positioned at the board or executive level of the organisation. Bespoke training and mentorship regimes will be rolled out between October 2020 and March 2021 with 12 hours of commitment.

“The leading role of women is crucial to the success and sustainability of business. Studies clearly show a correlation between companies with a greater proportion of women in senior decision-making positions and the delivery of better economic results for that company, as well as a greater focus on social and environmental issues.” WBCSD’s president and chief executive Peter Bakker said.

The WBCSD claimed that the mentorship programme aligns with its work to build towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).

The Better Business, Better World report, launched by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission in January 2017, found that achieving SDG5 and gender parity could unlock up to $28trn by 2030.

The WBCSD will partner with a business school in Spain, ESADE, to deliver the LEAP programme and build on an existing partnership with Yale University.

Gender trends

Currently, female staff account for more than half of employees in CSR professions globally. However, the trend is accounted for more by stand-alone consultants and low-paid interns than C-suite executives, with women filling just 29% of board-level seats globally. This proportion sinks even further for boards in the sectors best primed to lead the global low-carbon transition, from construction and energy, to transport and tech. Despite many businesses understanding the opportunities that women leaders can bring, more work needs to be done to promote parity.

The biennial Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) Salary Survey, however, does suggest that the profession has shown signs of closing the gender pay gap that has been exposed on a wider scale.

The global average difference between men and women’s earnings shrunk by 6.2% between 2016 and 2018, according to the survey. Nonetheless, men in the profession are still set to earn an average of £8,720 more than women this year.

On a national scale, the survey found that women working in CSR in the UK were found to be earning an average of £12,000 less per year than their male counterparts, taking home a mean annual salary of £51,598, compared to the £63,660 average for men.

This is roughly in line with the UK’s average gender pay gap for full-time and part-time workers, which stands at 18.4%, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.

Despite a disparity in pay, the survey results show that women are now in the majority in all generic CSR job categories, except for in director-level roles in consultancies. 

Matt Mace



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