Adam Steel
Adam Steel is Mintel’s Trends Analyst for the European region, identifying changes in the patterns of consumer behaviour to detect new trends. He publishes observations on Mintel’s Trends platform that cover innovations, creative marketing campaigns and product launches.

It’s not just on International Women’s Day that issues like women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality should be discussed. As the quest to reach parity continues to make headlines around the world, female empowerment remains a significant corporate social responsibility factor for businesses. Brands are taking on the challenge and investing in programmes and initiatives that cater for women, support them and provide guidance and opportunities.

Here, we highlight three examples of companies that are actively helping women achieve their goals and build their own future.

Giving women a voice at work – UK

All.ai is an app designed to empower women in the workplace by tracking voice activity within meetings. The app was designed by a team from the BBC’s 100 Women Challenge in response to statistics that show that women speak at least 25% less than men when working together. As well as telling users in what portion of the meeting their voice was heard, the app also analyses people’s voices to tell them how they sounded, for instance measuring their level of assertiveness.

In the UK, 73% of men agree that more should be done to ensure that women are treated equally in the workplace, according to Mintel’s 2017 report on marketing to men. This sentiment is likely to gain stronger traction as gender equality becomes more widely discussed, opening new opportunities for platforms and services that aim to empower women. However, brands should remain aware that change starts at home, ensuring that their own operations promote gender equality through things like equal pay and progressive maternity leave policies.

Sewing Seeds of Change – Uganda

Msichana is a Uganda-made fashion label that seeks to help its female staff through education and mentoring. The brand recruits women who are often stuck in low-paid, low-skilled jobs and provides them with work, as well as financial and literacy training. To alleviate everyday stresses, Msichana lets its staff work flexible hours, provides a free healthcare plan and offers two meals a day to each employee.

The lack of employment opportunities for women, in part driven by traditional expectations of women to be carers and home-makers, is still widely apparent across the globe. To counteract this, brands like Msichana are seeking to empower women with much-needed skills that will help them prosper. Indeed, we have already seen H&M create 4,000 jobs for women in Ethiopia, while Louboutin has collaborated with a female cooperative in Mexico to create a designer tote bag.

Girls and STEM – Brazil

Uber Brazil is hosting workshops designed to increase girls’ interest in technology. The workshops were aimed at 100 daughters of Uber drivers and were led by Lara Franciulli, aged 17 and a gold medalist in the Brazilian Computing Olympiad (OBI), and Déborah D Angelo, a 19-year-old entrepreneur, who created an app for the visually impaired. For the initiative, Uber teamed up with Força Meninas, an educational platform that seeks to empower girls aged 6-18 by teaching them specific skills that will give them equal leadership opportunities to those of boys.

The partnership is tapping into two current issues: the increasingly important role technology plays in our digital era, as well as how STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sectors are still dominated by men in many regions. We’re starting to see some signs that the gender balance can be effectively redressed with governments’, brands’ and organizations’ initiatives. Brands looking to promote tech-based jobs and education to girls and women would do well to monitor the results of their programmes over time. This will help them highlight how impactful their work has been in shaping a more balanced and equal reality.

Adam Steel is Mintel’s Trends Analyst for the European region, identifying changes in the patterns of consumer behaviour to detect new trends. He publishes observations on Mintel’s Trends platform that cover innovations, creative marketing campaigns and product launches.