An SDG Pioneer for Women's Empowerment in Conflict Settings

Alice Laugher is unswerving in her commitment to help women in conflict-ridden regions around the world take control of their lives.

As Chief Executive Officer of Committed to Good, Alice has deliberately woven three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goal 5 (Gender Equality), Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) into the long-term business strategy of the company’s unique humanitarian operations.

The staff at Committed to Good, or CTG, regularly turn on a dime to help other organizations assemble the experts — from doctors to security guards to drivers — essential to aid people in fragile and strife-torn areas. Started in 2004 and focusing solely on Afghanistan, CTG now serves clients in more than two dozen countries in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.

To ensure more women play a broader role in humanitarian projects in high-risk environments, Alice launched the #FemaleFirst initiative on International Women’s Day in 2017. Her target is to fill 30 per cent of all CTG project-related roles with women by 2030. The initiative goes beyond sourcing more female candidates. It works with the company’s clients to create work environments that are safe and sensitive to women’s needs as it creates stronger and more confident women in the local communities. The initiative also will help local communities uncover their unconscious bias around women and work.

CTG is dedicated to weaving the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into its daily business activities and has been participating in the Compact since July 2014. For example, CTG adheres to local labour practices, has an ethics committee, a policy for whistleblower’s that protects human rights, and its staff is trained in gender sensitive codes of conduct. The company’s Corporate Sustainability Report 2017: Balancing the Gender Scales in Humanitarian Projects lays out its progress on these and other issues.

The #FemaleFirst initiative has already demonstrated success as the percentage of project roles filled by women through CTG has jumped to 17.8 per cent, up from 8.6 per cent when the initiative was launched in March 2017. The company has equal representation of women and men within its core staff and women make up more than 9 per cent of the 2,000-plus staff members working in the field.

To encourage greater collaboration on gender equality among businesses, Alice launched and chairs the United Arab Emirates Women’s Empowerment Principles task force. [The Women's Empowerment Principles: Equality Means Business, offers businesses guidance on ways to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The seven principles are the result of a collaboration between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Global Compact and are adapted from the Calvert Women's Principles®.]

The UAE task force created a three-year strategy and as of May 2018, had 56 signatories. The task force works with business leaders to encourage companies to sign the Women’s Empowerment Principles, train them on how to follow the principles, to lead on best practices and organizes events such as the Ring the Bell for General Equality held by stock exchanges. The task force is comprised of CEOs and corporate responsibility experts from leading companies.

A wife and mother who knew when she first stepped into Iraq in 2003 that she was meant to help communities in conflict; Alice is an active board member of the Global Compact Network UAE. She is unrelenting in her devotion to help women in fragile areas of conflict take control of their lives and claim their rights. She continues to chair the UAE Women’s Empower Principles task force, speaks about the SDGs and launched a local UN Global Compact Business for Peace platform.

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