Women are the most likely changemakers for climate action

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Stronger together

Diversity and climate are top priorities for CEOs and boards of directors, but almost none have considered how linking the two management priorities could accelerate their transition to net‑zero emissions.

As the Oliver Wyman Forum and the 30% Club prepared for COP26 in Glasgow, we set out to uncover what can be achieved when diversity, and specifically gender representation, is included in companies’ climate change plans.

The question was more difficult to answer than we had anticipated. For example, starting with large data sets, we looked at how corporate diversity and climate outcomes might be correlated. Relationships were positive but statistically weak. However, with so many factors at play, we felt that focusing solely on these high‑level numbers was a red herring.

As our research and interviews with more than 20 companies progressed, it became clear that not only are women often excluded from many high-level government and corporate discussions on climate, their role as climate-action changemakers is largely unrecognized and underestimated.

Yet businesses need to include female colleagues, customers, and investors if they are serious about meeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We consider this report as just the beginning of research on what can be achieved if a greater mix of people — including women — is more explicitly included in companies’ attempts to reach net-zero emissions.

This report talks about action from corporations deliberately. Clearly, this must be taken together with action from governments, the third sector, civil society, and beyond.

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We are grateful for your understanding over this report’s limitations — for example, our focus on women in Western countries and a binary view of gender that is not inclusive of all identities and experiences.

We recognize that we do not cover intersectionality or other dimensions of difference, such as race and ethnicity, primarily due to a lack of data.

Despite this, we felt it important to continue and hope the report will have some impact in driving greater awareness and understanding of the critical linkages between these issues.

We thank and are grateful to the many colleagues who were willing to share their expertise and the companies we interviewed. We hope you find our initial research helpful as you consider your transition plans and look forward to continuing the conversation and research.

Rupal Kantaria
Partner, Oliver Wyman Forum

Ann Cairns
Global Chair, 30% Club and Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries