Opportunities from Elevating Women in the Supply Chain

With 55 percent of women lacking bank accounts and financial resources globally, according to the World Economic Forum, women are less able to access money before and after climate-related disasters. This can affect their ability to withstand these events as business owners who play key roles in supply chains, according to BSR.

The lack of access to capital is also a significant deterrent to insurance penetration, which is a risk to businesses. When crops are wiped out by a weather-related event or by the increasing lack of biodiversity due to climate change, unbanked and uninsured female farmers and other business owners have no recourse. The resulting scarcity has a ripple effect on businesses by increasing the cost of food and other commodities.

Aon has identified commodity price risk/scarcity of materials as the singular biggest risk to the food, beverage, and agribusiness industries. A business’s products, services, value chain, adaptation activities, mitigation activities, research and development, and operations can suffer, according to Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)—causing workforce instability, reduced consumer purchasing power, and reduced productivity.

I am starting to have conversations around how to get more sustainable finance into the hands of smallholders, which are largely women. People are hesitant to make investments in loans if individuals don’t have insurance, which further holds unbanked women back.”
Meredith Jones, ESG Expert

By thinking of women as an underserved market, a market bigger than any one country, unique opportunities for serving this market are revealed. Avoiding divestment in this market may future-proof gains and open new lines of business, access to talent and reputational benefits. In a McKinsey survey, 34 percent of senior executives reported that a company’s efforts to empower women in emerging markets increased profits.

Addressing the Underserved

5. Action Steps

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