The evidence is clear and compelling. Supporting women’s equality is one of the best investments we can make. A McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. We can’t afford not to invest in women.

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we work with the business community to help realize the full potential of investing in women. Around the world, corporations are playing a vital leadership role in helping to close the gender gap. To help more businesses understand the role they can play in gender equality, we conducted research with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Corporate Responsibility Initiative to develop the following framework for how businesses can empower women:  

Engage women more strategically in core business operations, governance structures and corporate value chains. This applies to both internal structures and external operations. Leaders in the private sector are sourcing from more women-owned businesses in their supply chains, ensuring their board of directors is diverse and inclusive, and incorporating inclusive hiring practices and advancement at work. All of these efforts build more opportunities for women throughout the daily course of business operations.

Every sector and industry has a role to play in driving women’s equality.

Enable women and girls to build their leadership capacity, human capital and economic assets through support from corporate community investment and philanthropy programs. Businesses with corporate social responsibility (CSR) or community impact programs can bring a gender lens to this work. Many of the businesses we work with at the Chamber Foundation invest in programs for a range of issues that support women and girls’ development including STEM education, mentorship, technical access and training, and health and wellness.

Advocate for women’s rights and opportunities by providing evidence-based corporate research and communications. Ensure that corporate values and leadership prioritize equality and that it is reflected throughout the businesses.

At the Chamber Foundation we work with businesses of all sizes that are a driving force for equality. Women represent half of the population, but more than half of the opportunity for growth. Every sector and industry has a role to play in driving women’s equality, and the three pillars above outline how to frame internal and external investments.