BLOG: Accelerating Gender Parity: Why Cross-Sector Partnerships Matter

While across the board exist sharp differences in operation, structure, and regulation, gender diversity and women’s empowerment emerge as two of the shared values embraced by both public and private sectors. Yet, the numbers tell us high representation of women in one sector might not transfer to other sectors in a country.

Given that both face many challenges of their own, would these barriers become more opportunities for them to foster women’s leadership together?

Earlier this June, The Women in Public Service Project along with Plan International USA and the Environmental Change and Security Program hosted an event about bridging the gender data gap and soliciting actionable steps to promote gender equality. Experts from both public and private sectors from around the table discussed ways in which progress can be expedited through cross-sector partnerships and collaborations.

In fact, examples of cross-sector collaborations are not at all hard to find.

In the private sector, KPMG is among the pioneer firms that actively engage in opportunities to support women and girls. Internally, KPMG has made considerable efforts to promote parity within the company. This includes initiatives such as the company’s gender quota research and performance reports, which highlights women’s participation in leadership roles across its offices all around the world since 2014; as well as KPMG Australia’s target to reach 30 percent women at the partnership level by 2020. Externally, the company has also partnered with the independent data initiative Equal Measures 2030, whose mission is to accelerate gender equality by connecting evidence with advocacy and action in an initial six focus countries.

At the same time, entities from the public sector like the French government have received widespread acclaim following President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement to appoint a cabinet, half filled by women and half by men, who come from diverse backgrounds both within and outside the political system. Among other notable public figures who spearhead the movement toward parity in politics and public policy is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. PM Trudeau is considered an innovative political leader of the new generation who has continuously brought his focus on gender equality into the limelight, which similarly to Macron, translates into his 50-50 cabinet’s decision in 2015.

The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) has been garnering social engagement and public interest with a focus on equipping institutions to empower women leaders. Combining approaches like our Global Women’s Leadership Index, data briefs, public talks about women in public office and events featuring women leaders, WPSP is engaging global advocates and stakeholders to gain momentum for gender equality in public office. WPSP is currently reaching more than 45,000 followers from around the world across social media platforms. Additionally, WPSP aims to serve as a go-to data and policy resource for advocates, policymakers, and aspiring women leaders.

Moving forward, actors in both sectors can contribute their own unique approaches and resources to help advance gender representation in leadership roles and drive critical policy decisions.

In the private sector, companies and businesses can take advantage of technical tools to help improve data measurements and analysis, especially in areas where research standards and methodologies have yet to fully develop. In addition, these enterprises can identify opportunities for direct engagement with public sector and private sector institutions and organizations driving parity. With increasing support from the private sector, non-profit organizations and initiatives can further their impact by providing vision for gender parity through thematic programs, leveraging data packages, along with conceptualizing raw measures and abstract vision through accessible narratives.

Together, a joint attempt across sectors is key to driving social change toward equal representation. WPSP will continue to encourage women’s political participation with the ambitious goal of reaching a 50-50 ratio of women in public office by 2050. The private sector can partake in this 50x50 movement by offering financial and technical support in data collection and analytics, especially in areas where data scarcity and legitimacy still raises an issue. The private sector can also engage in critical progressive policy that promotes women’s leadership. Public/private partnerships, therefore, will help create new ties and fortify existing initiatives in both sectors in the unceasing marathon toward gender equality.

Photo: Creative Commons, UN Women via Flickr