Gender equality in the field of corporate compliance: a commitment to sustainable development

Gender equality in the field of corporate compliance: a commitment to sustainable development

As women in the Compliance field, we understand that gender equality is, in addition to an essential right, the fundamental basis for building a prosperous and equitable world. This approach is closely aligned with Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 (“SDG 5”) of the United Nations Global Compact, which seeks to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in all aspects of life. .

Despite the progress made in recent decades, women and girls around the world still face significant barriers to enjoying this equality, especially in key areas such as education, healthcare, employment and participation in decision-making. political and economic decisions. The reality that comes from being exposed reflects a challenge that requires continuous commitment from all sectors of society.

In the corporate context, companies have a crucial role to play in promoting gender equality. It is not only about adopting internal policies and procedures to guarantee equal rights and employment opportunities, but also about investing in economic empowerment programs that benefit women and girls in the communities where they operate, aiming to build more inclusive work environments, fair and productive.

In accordance with SDG 5, some of the practices that companies can implement include, but are not limited to:

  • Create an Equality Plan with specific commitments, measures and objectives to promote and achieve gender equality within the organization.
  • Monitor and ensure that all company policies include a gender perspective and that the business culture promotes equality and integration.
  • Implement procedures aimed at promoting an increase in the number of women at all levels and positions within the organization, especially in positions of responsibility and management.
  • Develop a training plan on gender, which includes topics such as human rights and non-discrimination, for all departments and areas of the organization.

These actions not only meet the objectives of SDG 5, but also contribute to building a more equitable and sustainable environment for present and future generations. Additionally, they foster a more productive and enriching work environment for all employees, regardless of gender.Principle of the form.

By Lucía Rodríguez Wikman, Lawyer | CIEMSA

Gender equality in the field of corporate compliance: a commitment to sustainable development

Opinion | Participation of women on Boards of Directors


The choice of the title is not arbitrary and advances our opinion that giving space in these areas and, in all, to women is not an exercise for diversity, because, among other reasons, not even numerically, women are a minority. If this is not the case, it does not seem reasonable that, in specific areas, gender should be treated this way.
We chose this topic because we frequently see spaces for discussion about the inclusion of women in the Latin American labor market. However, there are fewer spaces that deal with the inclusion of women in the administration and representation bodies of public or private legal entities.


The World Economic Forum report, in reference to the “Global Gender Gap” of June 2023, indicated that, in general terms, it will take 53 years to close the gender gap in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In particular, the push to increase the role of women on boards may be even slower, compared to that in other areas of activity. In a work by the OECD2 “OECD Corporate Governance Factbook 2023” the following data is indicated in relation to the participation of women on the boards of directors of listed companies in the following Latin American countries:

As can be seen, inclusion in these forums is low. The acceleration of the inclusion of women in these areas has been handled in different ways depending on the country. Some propose state intervention through regulations (for example, with the establishment of mandatory quotas). Other countries have opted to disclose the gender composition of board members; while another group has established less rigorous mechanisms, such as the setting of voluntary objectives or goals or simply a collaborative approach.

To mention a case that is familiar to us, in India, according to the Companies Act, 2013 as amended, the participation of at least one woman on the boards of directors of companies is required.

According to a Harvard Business Review article “What Happened When India Mandated Gender Diversity on Boards”3, this movement began in 2003 in Norway, which established that boards should have 40% women in their composition. However, as also noted in the aforementioned work, it has been suggested that the response to these initiatives may result in the election of women to join the boards of directors with the sole purpose of complying with the law with the quota requirements without their presence can be considered legitimate. Likewise, one of the effects of the original Norwegian quota is that a small group of prominent women were appointed as directors in multiple companies.
According to the same work, this effect did not occur in India, where the law managed to significantly expand the group of different women who served as directors.

Some reflections

We asked ourselves, then, whether the issuance of standards would be the most effective way to increase the real participation of women on company boards.

It seems clear that a regulation of this nature requires, among other measures, prior attention to the issue of women’s participation in leadership positions, to avoid the repetition of phenomena such as the reports of concentration of appointments in few women or of lack of legitimacy. It is necessary, then, to educate and encourage the occupation of these spaces and not only impose participation.

And in all this, companies have a main role in adjusting their organizational culture and business administrative perspective. A company with a perspective of integration, diversity and gender focus should be a pioneer in these issues, enhance and promote it from its basic core, without waiting for the existence of an obligation. And this reflection is even more applicable to business conglomerates that are established. in different jurisdictions since it would not make sense to adopt a gender quota according to legislation if active and global policies for the participation of women in all positions and also on boards of directors are not maintained. This will imply a change and will generate resistance, but it cannot be postponed.

By Ana Cristina Peña, Crime Prevention Officer Latin America at Tata Consultancy Services.


1 World Economic Forum “Global Gender Gap 2023” retrieved from consulted on March 18, 2024.

2 OECD (2023), OECD Corporate Governance Factbook 2023, OECD Publishing, Paris, consulted on March 18, 11, 2024.

3 HBR “What Happened When India Mandated Gender Diversity on Boards”, February 2021 retrieved from What Happened When India Mandated Gender Diversity on Boards (

Gender equality in the field of corporate compliance: a commitment to sustainable development

Strategic litigation. Women’s ally

Strategic litigation, also called impact litigation, is a tool whose use is increasingly frequent and that helps achieve gender equity. It is important to understand what it is and what its scope is, to encourage its use in the future and continue developing advances in this matter.

For some time now, but particularly in recent decades, society has begun to care about achieving gender equality. This concern has been presented to politicians, leaders and governments in many ways, but particularly through demonstrations. It is true that civil society has been one of the great drivers of this impulse, but the work of organizations that have equity as an end in themselves must also be recognized.

These organizations have been fundamental in promoting public policies so that governments establish the foundations to eliminate inequality and provide equal opportunities to all.

However, it is common for governments, and particularly legislative powers, to not fully understand the requests that society makes on these issues. This can often happen due to machismo or even lack of vision to understand that a problem exists. This is not surprising, given that congresses are representatives of societies; These same societies suffer from the same problems, and that, in the best of cases, are just beginning their deconstruction processes.

That is why public policies that do not comply with international equity standards have been legally controversial, either because their purpose is not well understood or because the way these policies are applied does not contribute to achieving the objective of equity.

This is where strategic litigation comes in as a way that opens avenues of protection through the use of judicial tools. Strategic litigation represents the person with a particular situation and common requests from minority groups, which perfectly exemplify problems in laws and policies that could not otherwise be understood.

To demonstrate that a law is incorrect, develop a trial and challenge the norm that was applied to a specific case with specific circumstances and people, it will always be much easier than warning of its unconstitutionality in an abstract way.

In Mexico, and in the rest of the world, important precedents have been established in this matter, such as, for example, in criminal matters, the right for a woman not to be punished for performing an abortion.

Also, it was through a series of trials that differences between men and women in labor matters were reduced. This included cases where it was prohibited to fire pregnant women, questioning the policy that only provided daycare services to working women, but not to working men; endorsing the idea that, if a man worked, he did not need that benefit because surely his wife would not work and take care of the children.

In addition, the possibility of recognizing home work with the same rights as any other was opened. This allowed the establishment of pensions for women who remained in charge of the home while their husband worked, and also generated a social security system for domestic workers that allows them to enjoy benefits on a par with any job.

In administrative matters, it is important to highlight the interpretations of the scope of reparation for victims by state bodies, including the acceptance of responsibility, which has often led directly to modifying public policies and discriminatory legislation.

These matters have not only provided benefits to the people who promote such lawsuits, but they also generate precedents that can be applied by lower or local courts in similar matters, and in some cases they have even managed to boost the interest in carrying out legislative reforms and even constitutional ones to establish rights and their scope and the way in which governments should respond to the problems that women face.

These changes are fundamental, and although they are not rapid, they end up influencing society and individuals in the long term, thus causing societies to modify their rules in favor of equity.

Within the framework of Women’s Day, it is necessary to highlight and remember these types of tools, as well as celebrate the lawyers who, generally on a pro bono basis , seek the creation of equal opportunities and the end of gender-based violence. through the defense of affected people. The same with the organizations that give meaning to law and public policies every day so that they have better access to justice.

Last but not least, it is necessary to recognize the judges who, with progressive vision and often with considerable courage, provide the cases with the emblematic sentences that are celebrated on days like today.

Administrative Law |  Lawgic

By, Diana Rangel León, Bashan, Ringe and Correa Counselor.