This year, for International Women’s Day the theme is ''Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’’, focussing on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women.
We invited amfori member and Chair of the Dutch Network, Monique Ansink to explain how she integrated a gender lens in her company operations and due diligence strategy.
Monique, company owner of Excellent Products, is a CSR professional with over 20-years’ experience in the transport and cargo securing industry. The company exists since 1976 and owns two factories in both the Netherlands and in Vietnam. They decided to join amfori in 2011, seeking support to set up their factory in Vietnam with respect of the social and environment compliance.
What is your business case for supporting women in your supply chains and the importance of inclusion?
If women earn their own income, we believe it is more certain that the money will be spent on household and allow their children to attend school. This has many positive effects directly on families but also on the overall economy.
Our company sees a big gap in the living standard between Vietnam and the Netherlands, which we know is unfair.
We are working to empower the women in our factories to close this gap.
Can you tell us about your company’s policy towards gender quality?
Women are still the minority in management and boards. Often times women still depend financially on their husbands and earn less than men in the same jobs.
This situation continues to persist both the Netherlands and in Vietnam, where our company operates. To this effect, we focus our HR policy on empowering women.
What special initiatives have you taken part in to integrate gender equality in your company’s strategy?
We work with particular company goals to guide us towards sustainable growth, for example, we would like to create 300 new sustainable jobs with a workforce that is made up of 70% of women.
This goal is integrated in the overall strategy of the company!
Do you have any advice for SMEs that you would like share in accomplishing gender specific goals?
It really helped us to discuss this topic with our employees and other stakeholders to find our gender specific goals. They were established during brainstorm meetings so everyone can feel that these are shared goals. It´s not a top down approach but a decision made within and because there is mutual ownership, everybody is working on it and is motivated to achieve these goals. It is also important to look around and try to find best practices and learn from them.
Have you come across any outstanding leaders in the CSR field during your career?
A Dutch organisation, Women On Wings, which aims at creating one million jobs for women in rural India, inspired our management team to embrace women’s empowerment as one of our company’s objectives.
Creating jobs for women is a powerful goal and makes our work really meaningful. It’s really a big difference, when I wake up in the morning and think – yes, I’m going to work today to create jobs to empower women! That really makes my day and gives me the energy to share my enthusiasm with the entire team at Excellent Products.