Bangladesh textile and garment industry, downstream business partners of multinationals, have 50% more female administrative employees than other local enterprises, according to a report released by UNCTAD today.
Moreover, domestic firms that share suppliers with multinationals hire more women.
Gender equality practices of multinational enterprises, at both their headquarters and foreign affiliates, are having a positive impact in national and local enterprises in developing countries, says a press release.
This report is based on case studies from five countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to present empirical evidence of indirect impacts – both on local firms and local labour markets. The study was conducted to explain and research the spillover effects of gender norms to the host economy.
However, the report also warns that these positive outcomes are not automatic, as ensuring the inclusion of women's talents, skills, experience and energy requires the concerted actions of the business sector, policymakers and civil society.
UNCTAD has in the past documented the direct impact of equality practices or the positive effects in the subsidiaries of large corporations. This time, it goes a step further and shows that national and local companies are also positively impacted.
In addition to the direct impacts on their female employees, multinationals can influence the wider host economy by transferring best-practice policies towards female employees.
The study also highlights evidence from Brazil showing that labour mobility – from a multinational to a local industry – in the transportation and communications industry helped reduce the wage gap between men and women by about one-fifth.
The adoption by multinationals of explicit non-discrimination policies guaranteeing equality in hiring practices, wages and promotion opportunities within their affiliate networks sets an example for others. Promoting equal access to training, providing maternity leave without fear of repercussions and avoiding unfair dismissals are all good and necessary examples of how to translate our global goals into action on the ground.