How to Assess and Drive Workplace Gender Equality

What are the Gender Equality Principles (GEP)?
The Gender Equality Principles offer practical standards to which companies can aspire and a measure against which they can assess their progress on 7 fundamental gender equity issues. The Gender Equality Principles are based on the Calvert Women’s Principles®, the first global code of corporate conduct focused on empowering, advancing, and investing in women worldwide.

What is the Gender Equality Principles Initiative (GEP Initiative)?
The Gender Equality Principles Initiative is a partnership among the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, Calvert Group, Ltd., and Verite. The partners have collaborated with a range of companies, non-governmental organizations, and experts in gender, human rights, labor, employment, and legal issues to develop the GEP tools and resources to assist companies in GEP implementation.

What issues do the Gender Equality Principles cover?
The Gender Equality Principles address 7 key areas:

  • Employment and Compensation
  • Work-life Balance and Career Development
  • Health, Safety and Freedom from Violence
  • Management and Governance
  • Business, Supply Chain and Marketing Practices
  • Civic and Community Engagement
  • Leadership, Transparency, and Accountability

Why are the Gender Equality Principles needed?
To remain competitive in a market where increased equity for women often equals success for the company, businesses must learn to empower, advance, and invest in women. Although there are well-established labor and human rights norms and standards affecting women, to date there has been no systematic effort to apply those standards directly and specifically to corporate conduct. In addition, corporate codes of conduct do not sufficiently address or prioritize gender. The Gender Equality Principles Initiative has created a one-stop shop where companies can take a self-assessment on gender issues in the workplace, and access resources and tools created with corporate input.

What can an individual do?
An individual can take the Gender Equity Quiz and test her or his knowledge of gender equity issues. An individual can approach someone in their Corporate Social Responsibility or Human Resources Department to encourage the company to take the Gender Equality Principles Assessment. One can also access the 100 benchmarks that make up the seven principles to spark a lively discussion of what an organization can do to create a workplace that levels the playing field for women. Last, but certainly not least she or he can also access the many resources, best practices, studies, and articles that are available to help businesses empower, advance, and invest in women.

How do the Gender Equality Principles relate to other initiatives like the UN Global Compact?
The Principles are consistent with the Millennium Declaration, signed in 2000 at the United Nations, committing countries “to promote gender equity and the empowerment of women,” and with the labor and human rights principles of the UN Global Compact. However, the Principles and related tools are not general ideals or guidelines, but detailed, practical standards to assess and measure corporate conduct.

What is the difference between a Principle, a Key Element, and an Indicator?
Principles represent broad goals for each of the 7 gender equity issue areas addressed by the GEP.

Key Elements narrow the Principles into specific focus areas, and in general move from the most basic to the most aspirational. There are 1-4 key elements for each Principle.

Indicators address specific actions that can be taken as businesses strive to implement the GEP. The indicators follow a general framework addressing key areas such as legal understanding and compliance, initial assessments and audits, relevant policies and programs, management commitment and communication, targeted training and resources, systematic assessments and audits, and overall disclosure and accountability, as applicable. There are 2-10 indicators for each key element.

What is the Assessment Tool?
The Assessment Tool is a diagnostic tool developed to assist companies in implementing and promoting the GEP. It allows companies to:

  • Establish a baseline,
  • Identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement,
  • Leverage extensive indicators and resources, and
  • Set concrete goals and objectives to strengthen gender-related policies, practices, and organizational culture. 

Progress can also be measured and compared by different divisions and over time.
The Assessment Tool is for a company’s internal review only. Companies do not receive a final grade or total score.

How do I use the Tool?

  1. Register—By registering, you'll be able to return later to review or complete an earlier assessment. You can also ask others in your organization to conduct assessments for their departments or divisions.
  2. Choose a Principle—Select a Principle to learn more about it and begin the assessment process. You can begin with any Principle you choose. (See definitions of Principles, Key Elements, and Indicators, above.)
  3. Choose a Key Element—Each Principle is made up of a number of Key Elements. You can complete the assessment in the order provided, or select specific Key Elements most relevant to you. Once you’ve chosen a Key Element, a set of “indicators” will appear.
  4. Complete an assessment—When you complete your assessment, you can finalize the results. If you need to stop the assessment before completion, simply log-out and return to where you left off at any time. We encourage participants to take the assessment on a systematic basis (perhaps annually or semi-annually), so progress and results can be measured and compared over time.

How do I use the implementation scale?
Each indicator has a space next to it where you can rate your company’s implementation of that element on a scale of 0-5. The rating categories are defined as follows:


Full Implementation

Policy and implementation plan in place, widely accepted and utilized.


Moderate Implementation

Policy and implementation plan in place, but not yet widely accepted or utilized.


Beginning Implementation

Policy in developmental phase, or pilot program, and/or minimal implementation.


Ad Hoc Arrangements

Ad hoc arrangements made for specific cases.


Square One

No policy or plan in place; need information to get started.


Not Applicable

Particular key element is not relevant to organization's operations.

How long does it take to complete the self-assessment?
With the right people in the room, the self-assessment should take about 2 hours.  Examples of the right people include high-level individuals who are knowledgeable in each of the areas covered by the 7 principles.  These areas include, but are not limited to: human resources, supply chain management, and corporate social responsibility.

Why are some indicators repeated?
While the GEP address 7 distinct areas of gender equity, there are synergies among the key elements and indicators. At any given time, companies may choose to focus on specific sections of the tool, rather than the whole, so indicators are repeated or cross-referenced, where relevant.

Is this information kept confidential?
All information disclosed as part of the assessment process is confidential and for internal company use only.

Why register?
Registration allows our database to store your assessments, enabling you to return later, update them, and compare progress from year to year. Registration also enables you to invite colleagues to conduct assessments of their departments or work groups. This is called a linked account. If colleagues conduct assessments using a linked account, you will be able to review their assessments and compare results. Participating parties are informed of this data-sharing option during the establishment of linked accounts.

We will not sell, trade or otherwise disclose any user information outside this organization.

What is expected of GEP participants?
Companies that would like to work more closely with the GEP Initiative should contact the founding partners through the “Contact” link on the bottom of any page.

Company participants are asked to:

  • Evaluate their company using the GEP Assessment Tool;
  • Create and implement an action plan to make measurable progress on at least one of the Principles within a year;
  • Help publicize the GEP;
  • Attend roundtables and other GEP Initiative events (for companies with a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area); and
  • Provide in-kind support, reflective of your company’s abilities and expertise, such as meeting space, website development help, or other operational support.

How do participants benefit from the GEP Initiative?
Organizations that participate in the GEP Initiative realize a number of tangible and intangible benefits, including:

  • Ability to assess how the company is doing in relation to the GEP now and over time;
  • Access to extensive tools and resources to support implementation of the GEP;
  • Access to the latest thinking about gender equity programs and practices;
  • Opportunities for peer-to-peer learnings;
  • Increased awareness of gender issues in the organization as a whole; and
  • Participation in an international movement to advance gender equity in the workplace.

Who governs the Initiative?
The founding partners of the GEP Initiative are the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, Calvert Group Ltd., and Verité. (Learn more.)

How do I make changes in my company after using the Tool?
The GEP’s Assessment Tool is a diagnostic tool developed to assist companies in implementing and promoting the GEP. It will allow you to establish a baseline, identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement, and set concrete goals and objectives.

Creating an action plan will help you determine needed steps to take to make these goals and objectives a reality.*

Prioritize areas for improvement: Determine which issues are the most important for your company given the nature of your business, location, and issues identified as high priority.

Create an action plan: For each priority area, develop a concrete, measurable action plan. Ensure both benchmarking and accountability mechanisms are part of the plan, and establish a timeline for execution. Be sure everyone involved understands the plan and is prepared to take ownership.

Track progress: Establish key performance indicators to track progress against your action plan(s). Communicate progress internally and use performance results to identify areas of strength and opportunity. You may find it useful to repeat the Assessment Tool at regular intervals to measure overall progress against the GEP.

Communicate with stakeholders: The Assessment Tool’s key elements and indicators are a transparent and precise way to communicate progress and best practices to your stakeholders.

Utilize resources: In addition to the Assessment Tool, the Resources section of the website provides access to issue-specific information, case studies, best practices, business case materials, and scholarly articles to assist you in figuring out how to improve gender equity from the factory floor to the boardroom.

*inspired by the UN Global Compact Self-Assessment Tool

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