A sharper focus on corporate giving can create a fairer future for women and girls

By: Julie Reilly   |   Chief Executive Officer of Australians Investing in Women   |   https://www.aiiw.org.au/

When AIIW was established (as Australian Women Donors Network) over a decade ago we set out a core goal which we’ve stuck to – we want women and girls to get a fairer slice of philanthropy.

Whether its support for those escaping domestic violence, in desperate need of a roof over their head, or skills to earn a living our remit is to make sure donations and all kinds of giving delivers for women.

That’s never been more important or necessary. The upshot of this focus, as more research is telling us, is to improve women’s lives and accelerate gender equality across society.

This year started with some young women - Australian of the Year Grace Tame, political staffer Brittany Higgins and student Chanel Contos - taking a courageous stand over sexual harassment.

Their actions led to thousands of women joining the March4Justice around the country and loudly demanding basic safety when they went to work.

Just last month, new statistics from Chief Executive Women showed that there were fewer women in senior ranks than three years ago, and a new report from the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership highlighted our equal last position (with the UK) on gender pay equity.

Domestic violence has skyrocketed during the pandemic, many women have lost their jobs, or dropped out of studying, and taken on up to an hour more unpaid work every day.

There’s no question this paints a bleak picture. But it makes our mission to harness philanthropy and its power to drive social change through strategic investment in initiatives that support women more timely.

This is where our gender lens approach comes into its own.

It’s a way to move beyond rhetoric and take action. We know gender bias is still rife: from models of leadership, temperature settings in offices, safety in the cars we drive, design of PPE, diagnosis and treatment in heart health and the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.

Bias can also infiltrate funding decisions and program design if women’s needs and circumstances aren’t seen or understood. Applying a gender lens helps shift the design and delivery of initiatives to ensure their effectiveness.

Now AIIW has built on our work with private philanthropists, trusts and foundations, to also focus on corporate giving in its various forms.

A new resource launched this week, Sharpening our focus on corporate giving: keeping gender equality in the frame, has been developed through a collaboration between Australians Investing In Women and the Champions of Change Coalition.

The Champions of Change Coalition (CCC) has 255 member CEO across 220 organisations covering every major sector of the economy, with a collective commitment to step up beside women to listen, learn and take action on gender equality. Member organisations represent more than a third of the top 50 corporate funders listed in the AFR with a potential to activate significant funds and resources to ensure equitable philanthropic investment in the community. 

Partnering with CCC has been an important step forward for AIIW and the leaders involved in examining their own philanthropic investments in the community through a gender lens.

This is a huge opportunity to amplify impact and influence so that other parts of the corporate sector look at a gender lens approach.

Critically, the steps outlined in the report will also generate better measurement and increase important gender data in giving.

Whether investing in education, health and medical research, youth, First Nations, leadership, the arts, environment, or disaster recovery, it’s been recognised worldwide that investing in women has a multiplier effect. The impact ripples out beyond individuals to families, communities and national economies.

Right now that effect is crucial as COVID-19 has increased the urgency of focussing on women and girls or risking a backwards slide that leaves us all worse off.  We have commissioned further research from Equity Economics, Changing the Trajectory – Investing in women for a fairer future, that will be launched with Philanthropy Australia on 26 October, we encourage you to join us.

Our hope is that this new corporate giving resource will also lead to enhanced ESG reporting against Sustainable Development Goal #5 and follow the path that environmental reporting has taken over the last two decades. As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl on Monday 11th October, this focus is more important than ever.

The potential from this work is very exciting and the start of a new phase for AIIW. We’re proud to share this new resource,  and the accompanying video and encourage you to share far and wide.

Oct. 08, 2021

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