There’s no denying it: “The world needs strong women. Women who will lift and build others.” Women’s empowerment changes the game. Companies that promote it in their own workforce reap significant corporate benefits as a result, including a dramatic boost in company growth. Empowerment even boosts world GDP growth. A McKinsey Global Institute report states that companies supporting women’s empowerment can add $12 trillion to world GDP by 2025.
Businesses that elevate women to reach management levels gain even greater benefits, helping to boost company growth. A recent study by DDI, a global leadership company, revealed that companies, where women account for at least 30% of leadership roles, are 1.4 times more likely to have sustained, profitable growth.
The heavy industries are making great strides in women’s empowerment. However, there’s still work to be done. Below we review five significant projects driving empowerment in — construction, mining, and energy. These projects are changing the game for skilled, ambitious women and the companies supporting them:
Solar Sister Entrepreneur Program
Solar Sister empowers energy-oriented female entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 600 million people have no access to electricity. Many need to use harmful fuels just to make it through an ordinary day.
Concentrating on empowering women is a reliable method of dealing with energy poverty and developing sustainable solutions to climate change. Solar Sister provides women in sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity, training, and support to distribute clean energy among the underserved communities on the African continent.
Solar Sister recruits women, supplying them with durable, affordable solar-powered products and clean energy stoves. Entrepreneurs earn income by selling products to people without power. To date, Solar Sister has provided over 1.4 million people with clean energy stoves. Plus, it’s started off more than 3,400 female entrepreneurs.
Women of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (WRISE)
While empowerment is progressing in the Renewable Energy sector there’s still more work to be done. For example, in 2018 women only accounted for (10%) of executives in the top 20 energy companies in the Fortune Global 500. Meanwhile, half of these 20 companies have no women on their executive teams.
WRISE promotes female education, development, and advancement to achieve a strong diversified workforce in the renewable energy sector. It also supports a powerful renewable energy economy. Starting as a creative idea in the minds of three women, WRISE has grown organically and internationally across Canada and the U.S..
Launched in the Spring of 2005, WRISE has grown and prospered over the years; from a strong foundation in the wind sector to a strong force across the entire energy segment. It’s changing the industry by building the community, improving education, and cultivating leadership. It also encourages members to speak out and stand up for others.
Women in Mining at Mthandazo Women in Mining Centre (Colleen Brawn).
In Zimbabwe, more money is earned by women in mining than any other industry. This beats the income generated by through traditional activities meant for female hands in the rural community. However, until Women in Mining (WIM) was launched, women in Zimbabwe had little chance of tapping into this source of income. WIM became the first such company to be owned exclusively by women in Zimbabwe.
This organization also became the first ever gold processing plant for women in Zimbabwe. Launched on November 25th, 2016, it empowers all women who work in mining in Colleen Bawn, Gwanda District of Matabeleland South Province, to process their gold. It also encourages and supports empowering women, along with their families to reach their goals in the mining industry.
Mrs. Evance Majola is a founding member of this organization, benefiting from the mining equipment donated to the Centre in November 2016 by the UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender, and Community Development. Using the equipment, Majola founded a successful mining business over 20 years ago. She was previously a small-scale vegetable farmer.
Plaza Construction in New York City
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when it comes to wages, the American construction industry is more progressive than most other countries. Women generally make 80% of what men in the country earn. However, in construction, this is much closer at 91.3%. The problem is getting them to join the construction workforce and empowering women, of which they only account for 9% and 7% in New York City in 2017.
Plaza Construction, a New York City-based company, recently replaced its “Men at Work” signs at site entrances with more inclusive ones. These “inclusive” signs now read “Men & Women at Work.” These diamond shaped signs are not only catching the eye of men but also women interested in the industry.
The signs help combat the stigma faced by current women working in construction, says the company’s CEO. He also says that it encourages women to enter the industry by forming gender neutrality in the working environment. Women working for Plaza are also more commonly accepted by their male counterparts.
Women in Mining Coalition/Women in Mining Canada
A 2015 study by Women in Mining UK, found that the global mining industry has a worse record of women on boards than any other industry. In fact, women occupy only 8% of all board seats owned by the 100 top mining companies, with only four females executive directors in the entire group. The field workforce isn’t much better. Women make up only 13% of the US mining industry and 17% in Canada.
Organizations like the Women in Mining Coalition (WMC) and Women in Mining Canada (WIM) help ensure that female-oriented initiatives and programs are in place to help women empowerment by helping them make a mark in the industry’s workforce. A nonprofit organization formed in 2009, WIM concentrates on the interests of women in mineral exploration in Canada’s mining segment.
In 2014, WIM Canada developed a National Action Plan designed to attract and retain women in the skilled trades and senior executive positions, along with help from a grant provided by the Status of Women Canada organization. This plan focuses on empowering women by placing them in senior executive roles and non-traditional occupations that include the trades, heavy equipment operators, miners, and engineers.
These are just a few examples of the many activities taking place worldwide to support women in the heavy industries, benefiting both women and company.
For women, it can provide them with more control over their own lives, boosting independence and releasing them to make their own schedules and learn new skills. For businesses, empowering women increases profits by the opening or an increase of markets, improving productivity, while enhancing collaborative action and teamwork within the company.
Most importantly, female empowerment boosts corporate growth. Companies that invest in it recognize significant corporate benefits. In other words, empowering women is not only a game-changer for women but also the companies and industry sectors which promote it.