Climate change does not impact all people equally; its effects exacerbate existing disparities in vulnerability across social factors such as race/ethnicity, class, sex and gender identity, as well as age, physical ability, and many other factors. These more vulnerable cohorts are therefore likely to experience more volatility—or unpredictability—and adverse outcomes than others.
Knowing this, it is important to ask: how will social inequities translate into increased business risks and volatility due to climate change? And what are the business, environmental, and community benefits that can result when businesses work to address these inequities as part of, or in concert with, their climate action?
Gender + Climate: Professional Beliefs
% believe gender equity plays an important (extremely or very) role in reducing climate risk
Women, in particular, face unequal risks when it comes to climate change. To what extent depends greatly upon where they live and their socioeconomic status. It is documented that in the wake of a natural disaster, women are more likely to face displacement and forced migration. According to the UN, women represent 80 percent of people displaced by climate change globally. Women are also 14 times more likely to die in a climate event, according to PwC, Business Fights Poverty, and the WOW programme.
Women also often bear a disproportionate share of responsibilities during and after climate events related to caring for family members and immediate household needs. For example, in many parts of the world, women’s livelihoods are often closely linked to food, water, fuel, and/or subsistence living, which can be devastated by extreme weather. As a result, women’s and girls’ attendance at work and school, respectively, are also disproportionately impacted.
Beyond impacts to the individual and on a broad level, climate change is expected to become a major driver of societal volatility in years to come, as hunger and migration beget extremism, violence and political risk. Research suggests that empowering women may play a role in opposing political upheaval or violent radicalism, enhancing resilience to communities in myriad ways.
Among other challenges, these issues exacerbate business risk in the event of a climate disaster, aggravating supply challenges and crop scarcity. This is especially true for businesses that rely heavily on female workers, such as those in the apparel and agriculture industries.