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Women in Business: Gender Equality & Economic Growth


A great social cause with an even greater economic reward


Despite the country’s slow pace in closing gender gaps, the majority of the citizens of the U.S. outwardly support gender equality. With this in mind, it is not difficult to imagine a reality in which the entire country is united towards the cause of gender equality and social justice; although there are moments in U.S. history during which some citizens fail to exemplify the cause for moral truth, there are many more moments in which others reach out their hands to support one another.


Unfortunately, the stories of failures tend to be more newsworthy than the messages of successes—whether that success exists in a small moment between colleagues supporting each other on the path ahead, or in a great decision by a CEO that empowers and emboldens employees to overcome obstacles and pursue their professional dreams for the betterment of the company.


In this way, women’s empowerment does not only affect women in the U.S., but affects everyone throughout the  country in its ability to allow for growth and development both socially and economically. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), women’s economic empowerment “boosts economic growth and leads to better development outcomes.” The IMF explains that this is possible because pay parity “contributes to reducing income  inequality and boosting economic diversification and, in turn, supports economic resilience.”


Furthermore, women’s economic empowerment is proven to increase productivity in the workplace. Certain countries, like Iceland, Sweden, and Norway, have made great strides towards closing the gender gap in their labor markets, and have, in turn, substantially increased their GDP. According to PwC’s Women in Work Index, it is estimated that if the U.S. increased female employment rates to match Sweden’s, the GDP for the country would increase by USD 6 trillion. Currently, the gender gaps in our country costs the economy an estimated 15 percent of the GDP.


Companies themselves also benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, as research by McKinsey & Company in “Women Matter: Time to accelerate” shows that placing women in leadership roles can “increase organizational effectiveness and growth.” McKinsey & Company explains, “It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance.”


However, according to an article in 2018 by the New York Times, the number of female CEOs in the U.S. declined by 25% last year. This was unusual since the number of female CEOs increased the previous year by 6.4%, which was a record high. Reasons for such a decline are uncertain, but what is clear is that in order for the U.S. to reach the level of growth and development that could be possible with greater gender equality, its citizens will have work to do.


In the cleaning and hygiene industry in the U.S., issues around women’s ability to obtain positions of leadership and influence are not unique—but the women who have championed this issue and progressed the industry towards a more equal tomorrow are. These are the women of American Cleaning & Hygiene’s first Women in Business cover story: Extraordinary women who are committed to not only the betterment of their companies, but the lives of those they steward towards a brighter future.



Ecolab Is Committed to Advancing Diversity and Women’s Empowerment


At Ecolab, they understand that to do great things, they need great talent. They also know that people thrive and do their best work in an environment where differences are valued, and where everyone can make an impact. Ecolab is committed to creating a workplace where everyone can grow and achieve their potential, and team members know that they are being counted on to help drive positive change.


In June 2017, Ecolab Chairman and CEO Douglas M. Baker, Jr., joined more than 150 CEOs from the world’s leading companies who affirmed their commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace by signing the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.


In 2018, Ecolab was recognized as a leading U.S. employer for diversity in the workplace by Forbes. One of 250 U.S.-based companies on the 2018 Best Employers for Diversity list, Ecolab ranked seventh in the Business Services and Supplies category and number 170 overall. Additionally, Ecolab was named to Forbes magazine’s inaugural list of America’s Best Employers for Women. The list ranks leading employers based on several gender-equality factors, including diversity, parental leave and pay equality.




3M Is Committed to Accelerating Progress for Women Globally


Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the core of 3M’s business strategies. In 2011, the company kicked off a global initiative to accelerate the progress for women throughout the company and across the world. To support that effort, 3M implemented: “I’m in. Accelerating Women’s Leadership,” which is a global initiative that focuses on the advancement of women in the management pipeline and development of career path opportunities. The program is part of a broader “I’m In.” organizational approach to engage and support 3M staff around the world.


3M’s mission is to employ a diverse and inclusive workforce worldwide, and by having people from different backgrounds at the table, innovation continues to thrive at 3M. As a company, they are champions of their female employees and will continue to celebrate the milestones their teams accomplish at 3M.