Washington, DC
September 12, 2022

Buy from Women to Deliver on ESG Goals — By Elizabeth A. Vazquez

 The first mention of “Triple Bottom Line” started to appear in corporate lexicon in the mid-90’s, describing a sustainability framework to examine a company’s impact, with the coined alliterative phrase, “People, Planet & Profit” trailing close behind.  Since then, we’ve seen an onslaught of impressive corporate sustainability reports, detailing the massive investment that corporations are pouring into ESG initiatives. Over 90% of S&P 500 companies currently publish their sustainability information,[1] and as an increasingly socially conscious society, this has been an important step-change. 

Sincere commitments are woven into the fabric of every major corporation.  But there are still two major challenges to success: 

  1. Standardized Reporting – For broad-stroke ESG benchmarking to succeed, there needs to be a way for companies to share their data in an apples-to-apples format. The good news is that there are organizations that are taking a lead on how to standardize, and more importantly, simplify, these reporting standards.  As of July, 2022, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) had launched a proposal for a standardized approach to sustainability disclosures.  However, even with the optimistic ambitions of the ISSB, recent chatter within the ESG Ecosystem has suggested that industry groups should be the ones tasked with collecting the anonymized data and providing benchmark visibility back to all participants.  It would make sense – industry groups would help remove subjectivity, as well as harmonize the global dialogue around reporting standards. 
  2. Sustained Impact & Development – Reporting is not always a proxy for progress.  While the ESG dictionary continues to grow with trendy, new metrics announced every few months, some of the well-intended terminology can feel like hype, designed more to impress investors than impact the public. Now is the time to set aside the jargon, and elevate the great work that so many sustainability and social impact professionals have been doing for over 20 years.  It’s time to take ESG to the next level to ensure that the next decade is focused on inclusive and measurable progress at scale. 

WEConnect International is uniquely positioned to do just that. 

As it relates to reporting, WEConnect International provides accurate metrics, at local, regional, and global levels regarding women-owned businesses, that can be easily segmented by industry, revenues, or country of origin.  Seeing that 6 out of the 17 SDGs[2] are intrinsically connected to women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, WEConnect International is a vital knowledge partner for any corporation, government or multilateral that is serious about providing transparency and accountability through their data. 

Our global non-profit identifies and certifies women-owned businesses in more than 50 countries representing over 70% of the world population, and this is accomplished by way of strategic partnerships with powerful corporations, multilateral institutions, and government agencies focused on building entrepreneurial ecosystems that create quality jobs.  

Conversely, on the impact front, WEConnect International has been laying the groundwork required to build more inclusive global value chains that strengthen global economies for over a decade.  Our 170+ member buyers spend with non-US women-owned businesses in 2021 exceeded US$4 Billion.  There has never been a more perfect time to integrate WEConnect International’s knowledge, resources and know how into the mainstream of ESG to help take it to the next level of measurable impact at scale.  

Citigroup estimates that closing the gender gap for women-led businesses could boost global GDP by $2 trillion. Successful women business owners around the world also make key contributions to peace and security, job creation, thriving families, and community development because of how women spend their earned income.  Women around the world also tend to build environmentally friendly businesses that do no harm.  We simply cannot afford to allow the contributions of women-owned businesses to go unnoticed, unmonitored or unsupported.  

The real bottom line is that supplier diversity and inclusion, and women’s economic empowerment through gender inclusive sourcing, are key to delivering on ESG goals and ensuring more inclusive and sustainable global prosperity


[1] https://blog.nacdonline.org/posts/esg-audit-fortune-500

[2] The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals https://sdgs.un.org/#goal_section