Engendering Utilities works with energy and water companies like Vietnam Electricity (EVN) to improve gender equality and create more opportunities for women in technical roles. | Credit: EVN

The Business Case for Gender Equality

By Corinne Hart, Hayley Samu

When women are able to fully participate and lead in the workforce, we know that businesses prosper. Research shows that gender and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry standards by 25 percent. A recent study by McKinsey analyzed more than 1,000 companies in 12 countries and concluded that gender-diverse companies are more likely to outperform their national industry average in terms of profitability. Companies with gender-diverse boards outperform those with no women during times of crisis or volatility. 

Despite the clear business case for hiring, promoting, and trusting more women in the industry, workplaces in the energy, climate, and water sectors are persistently male-dominated. Women are most affected by climate change but have the least representation and power. Even when organizations hire women, they are often relegated to lower level, non-technical positions, lacking leadership or decision-making power.

This International Women’s Day, USAID challenges companies to take positive steps toward gender equality. The Engendering Utilities program provides an evidence-based methodology for improving gender equality throughout the employee life cycle through its Framework, Delivering Gender Equality: A Best Practices Framework for Male-Dominated Industries. USAID recently released the third iteration of the Framework, which now includes new best practices, hundreds of new resources, and crucial chapters on intersectionality, diversity and inclusion, and gender equality during times of crisis. The Framework helps companies make changes and systematically embed equitable decision-making processes in the workplace, thereby increasing opportunities for all workers and making companies more successful. 


The three participants from BRPL have worked with their coach over the last year to improve gender equality at their energy utility in India.

In India, Engendering Utilities partner BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) made organizational changes to bridge the gender gap. The power utility was losing substantial revenue in some of its service areas due to customers stealing power. Men who visited these neighborhoods struggled to gain the trust of customers, most of whom were women alone during the day.

BRPL decided to send women to these communities to be agents of change. The women did not wear utility uniforms, demand payment, or threaten to disconnect power, but instead entered the communities with the primary goal of earning trust in the community. Over time, the women produced impressive results. By hiring more women and incorporating more diverse perspectives, BRPL was better positioned to solve problems and increase revenue. BRPL also strengthened customer relations, changed perspectives of women working at the utility, and built confidence among the female staff to pursue new roles.  

Engendering Utilities supports 29 utilities across 21 countries to counter gender disparity, cultivate talent, and promote leadership opportunities for women so they can thrive in well-paying energy jobs in their local economies. To date, Engendering Utilities partners have implemented more than 440 gender equality and women’s empowerment activities, trained 6,105 women on technical and soft skills to advance their careers, hired 1,115 new women, and promoted 955 women. For more information, visit https://www.usaid.gov/energy/engendering-utilities/results or follow #EngenderingUtilities on social media.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Integration
Poverty, Adaptation, Emissions, Development, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Grid Integration, Gender and Social Inclusion, Health, Indicators, Private Sector Engagement, Self-Reliance, Water and Sanitation

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