But that’s not the whole story, according to this article from Reuters:
Unfortunately the article doesn’t reference the studies cited and meanders around a little, in search of balance.
Still, it’s very interesting to read, and re-affirms what we already know:
1) Women’s empowerment is vital in development and in tackling corruption and cronyism (under the right circumstances in many cases)
2) Institutions that provide the framework are just as, if not more important.
So should companies focus one 1 or 2?
1 is easier. 2 is politically sensitive. But corporate support of the development of better institutions is possible, if done via a credible third party, a suitable and credible NGO or academic organisation, for example. It can even be done more directly, but that is riskier.
You don’t see this in many CR reports or sustainability strategies, but we will one day.
Look at how the tax debate in the UK is shifting the positions of popular brands such as Starbucks and Google.
Consider how much more vulnerable brands will be in a world where growth is tight, population growing, and fresh resources becoming scarcer.
At some point, the biggest companies will have to jump on board and help contribute to improving institutional governance.
They are beginning today with technical training, for example, to prevent factory ethical breaches.
I’d suggest that within five years this approach will grow and expand towards institutions.
It has to. Without that, we can’t solve as many of the problems we face. And big companies are going to be first in the firing line. Supporting institutional development sooner rather than later is a good idea, difficult though it is.
Here’s a paper that explores some elements of this idea. Fascinating.