Target Equality-United Kingdom

Setting and reaching ambitious corporate targets for
women's representation and leadership across business at all levels.

The business case for women’s representation and leadership

Women's business leadership has been a talking point in the private sector for decades – yet progress remains slow. According to a recent ILO study, over 50% of corporate boards have low female representation and over 13% of boards are all-male. Women are also underrepresented in senior management roles, especially strategic management functions. For example, it is estimated that only 16% of senior P&L roles are held by women.

The implications of inaction on gender equality have a negative impact on economic growth and business success, not to mention the Global Goals and our shared goals on matters such as climate change, decent work, and health, if the talents, skills, and innovation of women continue to be undervalued.


Taking bold action to increase female representation and leadership in business is needed more than ever, and public support for gender equality from the business community is stronger than it has ever been: over 2300 business leaders have signed the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and when asked, 85% of CEOs agree than “Women’s participation and leadership in business is a critical driver of company performance”.

Gender equality is also good for business:

Programme overview

Target Gender Equality is a gender equality accelerator programme for participating companies of the UN Global Compact. Through facilitated performance analysis, capacity building workshops, peer-to-peer learning and multi-stakeholder dialogue at the country-level, Target Gender Equality will support companies engaged with the UN Global Compact in setting and reaching ambitious corporate targets for women’s representation and leadership, starting with the Board and Executive Management levels.

Companies participating in Target Gender Equality have the opportunity to deepen implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles and strengthen their contribution to SDG 5.5, which calls for equal women representation, participation and leadership in business globally. Companies will be equipped with the latest data and research supporting the business case for gender equality and gain insights from UN partners and experts on how to accelerate progress on gender equality.

A global programme

Focused on local collaboration

Accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Driving bold business action to increase women’s representation and leadership in business

Global Compact Network UK is delighted to announce our participation in Target Gender Equality. Our programme will be running from April 2020 – March 2021 and will include several activities: performance analysis, capacity building workshops, peer-to-peer learning opportunities and multi-stakeholder dialogue at the country-level:

Programme Benefits

Confidently set ambitious and realistic corporate targets for gender equality demonstrating commitment and action to your employees, investors and other stakeholders

Understand your current gender equality performance through the facilitated use of the Women’s Empowerment Principles Gender Gap Analysis Tool

Engage in accelerated learning opportunities specific to UK

Build a network of peers, UN partners and experts to support your gender equality strategy and work collectively to tackle persistent barriers to gender equality

Showcase women in your company who are driving business success, sustainability and contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Eligibility requirements

A business Participant or Signatory of the UN Global Compact

Currently engaged with the UN Global Compact Network UK or willing to join

Committed to strengthening corporate target setting and action to increase women’s representation and leadership in business

Willing to appoint two representatives to participate in programme activities and events and an executive-level “Ambassador” to follow programme developments, provide support and participate in high-level events

Costs of joining

Free for: UK Network members on the Participant Engagement Tier;

£350+VAT for: UK Network members on the Signatory Engagement Tier.

You can check your company's engagement tier here.


By the end of 2022, the UN Global Compact aims to mobilise and support 1000 companies to set corporate targets and take ambitious action to increase women’s representation and leadership in business, at all levels and across all areas.

  • Support ambitious corporate target setting through facilitated performance analysis and capacity building at country level;
  • Promote the comprehensive business case for women’s full participation and leadership in business, including financial and non-financial performance;
  • Support companies in creating more gender-inclusive businesses aligned with the Women’s Empowerment Principles;
  • Connect business to UN partners and other experts that can further support business action to advance SDG 5.5;
  • Foster policy and stakeholder dialogue at the country level to address barriers to women’s representation and leadership in business;
  • Showcase and promote women’s business leadership driving corporate sustainability and progress on the Global Goals;
  • Demonstrate that gender equality is a key component of corporate sustainability and business’ contribution to the Global Goals.

SDG 5.5:

Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life



Tailored facilitation of the WEPs Gender Gap Analysis Tool, a free, user/friendly, and confidential online platform that helps companies to assess current policies and programmes, highlight areas for improvement, and identify opportunities to set future corporate goals and targets.

In-country and global exchange workshops with peers and experts to help companies set and meet ambitious targets, aligned with SDG 5.5. Different dimensions will be explored and workshops will be designed to recognise and respond to different country contexts.

Organisation of high-level dialogues with business, government, investors, and other stakeholders focused on identifying concrete actions and generating tangible commitments to remove external barriers and strengthen drivers for women’s business leadership.

Through a global campaign and targeted communications, the UN Global Compact will call for urgent business action to increase women’s representation and leadership in business. A range of communication channels will be leveraged, including web, social media, and the monthly bulletin of the UN Global Compact.



You can download our Programme Timeline in PDF version here.

Target Gender Equality Global Coalition

The Target Gender Equality Global Coalition brings together expert organisations that are committed to advancing women’s business leadership to support the rollout of Target Gender Equality across the globe and help amplify the call for ambitious corporate target setting for women’s representation and leadership in business.


Do you have any questions? Please see our Brochure, Target Gender Equality FAQ or the recording of our Introduction to Target Gender Equality webinar, embedded below.
For any further detail, please contact Karla Drpić.

2020-2021 Target Gender Equality cohort

Recruitment for the 2020-2021 Target Gender Equality programme is now over, and we are delighted to present the 2020-2021 Target Gender Equality UK cohort, consisting of 17 member companies of the Global Compact Network UK.

Participants: ERM, National Grid, The Very Group, DWF Group, RELX Group, HH Global, Schroders plc, G4S, Ove Arup & Partners, Tag Worldwide Group, Shoosmiths, HSBC Holdings, Vodafone Group, WPP, Social Development Direct, Marshalls, AstraZeneca

What our representatives are saying about Target Gender Equality:

Further resources

WEPs Tool
Take the Women’s Empowerment Principles Gender Gap Analysis Tool (WEPs Tool) today to assess your company's strategic approach to gender equality and identify gaps and opportunities for continuous improvement.

UN Global Compact Academy E-learning Course on Gender Equality
Access the new (and free) UN Global Compact Academy E-learning Course on Gender Equality to learn why gender equality and women’s empowerment is a prerequisite to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, how your company can contribute to the achievement of SDG 5, learn about concrete steps that your business can take to mainstream gender equality into strategy and operations, and more.

COVID-19 Impact Brief: Gender Equality
Across every sphere — from health to the economy, security to social protection — the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are disproportionately affecting women. Read this brief to learn more.

Target Gender Equality COVID-19 quiz
Is your company's response to COVID-19 gender-responsive? This 10-question quiz is developed to help draw attention to the questions business should consider and actions that business can take to ensure a gender-sensitive and gender-inclusive response to COVID-19.

Top 3 Tips for Women in Business (From Women in Business)
As part of the Target Gender Equality Lounge at Uniting Business LIVE, the UK Network organised a live session with guest speakers Kerry Phillip (Legal Director, Vodafone Business) and Kate Rowlinson (CEO, MediaCom). This event focussed on the best advice for women in business from successful businesswomen from Target Gender Equality-participating companies. You can watch the recording here.

Applying a gender lens to the COVID-19 crisis: evidence from the UK
Interested in learning more about what the evidence from the Target Gender Equality COVID-19 Quiz shows for UK-based companies? Read our article to find out and learn more about how your company can respond to the COVID-19 crisis in a gender-sensitive way.