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Multinationals Promote Professional Development of Women

6/27/2003 --

ANN ARBOR, MI -- Leading firms such as Ford Motor Co., Xerox do Brasil and Motorola Malaysia have recognized the need to maintain good corporate citizenship for their overseas operations. Each of these multinational corporations has received the prestigious Department of State Award for Corporate Excellence in recognition of their innovative programs.

However, there is still a great deal that multinational business leaders can do to help women become meaningful wage earners in developing nations, say Cindy Schipani of the University of Michigan Business School and Terry Morehead Dworkin of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business in their study “Gender Voice and Correlations with Peace.”

Adopting proactive policies and programs to promote the professional development of women may have the potential to benefit the company and its female employees and their families, they say. It is also possible that it may lead to greater economic stability and lower rates of violence in the local society.

In their study, published recently by the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, the two researchers looked closely at 144 countries and found a correlative relationship between low levels of gender inequity in the workforce and low levels of violence in resolving disputes.

Although many nations have passed legislation banning discrimination in the hiring, treatment and compensation of women, those laws are not always enforced by government officials or sometimes are negated by cultural norms, religious customs or traditional business practices, the researchers say. The efforts of non-governmental organizations, the media and the Internet may lead to only limited changes in certain societal classes, they add.

“Laws are only partially successful in correcting gender imbalances,” said Schipani, professor of business law at the University of Michigan Business School and co-director of corporate governance at the William Davidson Institute. “This suggests that business might play a role by granting social rights and by adopting policies on nondiscrimination, providing mentoring and training programs, and implementing child care and other family-friendly policies.”

Multinational companies can encourage compliance with policies designed to fully integrate, equitably compensate and fairly promote women within their organizations by establishing educational programs for managers, offering incentives and instituting evaluations tied to pay raises.

“There seems to be a correlation between involving women in the workforce and peace,” Schipani said. “The benefits to women, the employer, society and global stability call for companies to implement inclusion policies.”

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: 734.936.1015 or 734.647.1847