Tag Archives: business

Newsflash: Businesswomen Lead in Nicaragua

Mesa presidium

The draft Nicaraguan Businesswomen Agenda was presented during REN’s International Women’s Day forum on March 6, 2015. Speakers included Nicaraguan Minister of Industry and Commerce Orlando Solórzano and U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Phyllis Powers.

Empowered Businesswomen.” “Businesswomen Influence the Destinies of Other Women.” These two headlines ran in the March 7, 2015 editions of Nicaragua’s two leading newspapers, La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario.

It is not unusual for Nicaraguan media to publish articles related to women’s empowerment on International Women’s Day. Women are prominent in the Nicaraguan political sphere, thanks in part to gender quotas encompassed in the Gender Equality Law and the revised Electoral Law. Nicaragua now ranks 11th in the world in the proportion of women in parliament, 40 percent – far above most other Latin American countries (and the United States, with 18 percent). International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to highlight these advances.

What’s unusual in the case of the two articles linked above is the inclusion of one word: “Businesswomen.” Here is why.

Unfortunately the trend towards greater participation of women in the political sphere has been slow to spread to private sector organizations, which are key actors in advocating for policies that improve the business climate. A 2014 review conducted by the Network of Nicaraguan Businesswomen (REN) of the 19 business organizations that form the umbrella private sector association the Superior Council for Private Enterprise (COSEP) found that an average of 16 percent of board members are women. This is the same figure found by a similar study by the International Labor Organization in 2009.

Private sector organizations rarely incentivize women’s participation or provide equal access to information that can lead them to access leadership positions. As a result, there are very few private sector leaders promoting the specific interests and needs of women entrepreneurs in a substantial way.

On top of that, organizations of women entrepreneurs have historically operated based on incipient alliances and limited coordination with one another, resulting in disperse efforts to advocate for public policies that can improve the business environment for women entrepreneurs.

If this is the reality, are La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario’s articles simply fluff pieces scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Day?

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Stakeholder Trust: A Proposal for a Global Business Ethics Principle

dowden-nicholsThis article originally appeared on the Russian International Affairs Council blog.

By Patricia E. Dowden and Philip M. Nichols

What standards should businesses observe in their own countries, or abroad? Businesses now have resources and influence that rival or surpass those of governments and certainly of ordinary people.[1] The choices businesses make can profoundly influence the lives of every person on the planet. Businesses, governments, and people now recognize that businesses must do much more than merely obey the law. Yet discerning and agreeing on globally appropriate rules for business behavior has been a formidable and contentious discussion among business leaders and academics.

While acknowledging all of the contentiousness, we now offer a modest proposal for a unifying global business ethics principle:

A basic duty of every organization is to earn stakeholder trust.

This principle is meant to replace a more familiar but flawed imperative: that the basic duty of each business leader is to “maximize shareholder value.” [2] Such a duty has never been explicitly written into corporate law, yet is often practiced by CEOs as a way of avoiding dissatisfied shareholders and being replaced by a similarly dissatisfied Board of Directors. But a single-minded focus on profitability – especially very short-term profitability – has serious limitations and risks to the ongoing enterprise; we will explain why earning and maintaining stakeholder trust – including shareholders — can not only serve businesses’ bottom line over time, but also make the market economies where they operate much more sustainable.

Read More at Corporate Compliance Trends…

The Future of the U.S.-Africa Economic Relationship


Last week Washington hosted nearly 50 African heads of state at the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Countless meetings and conversations that took place not just among government officials but businesses, international organizations, and non-profits (including CIPE and Freedom House) brought Africa into the spotlight. Yet the most important aspect of the Summit is still ahead: what did we learn and how can this knowledge guide the way forward?

One of the most informative outcomes of the Summit to me was the launch of a report Africa and the United States: A defining relationship of the 21st century at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Presidential Plenary. The report was jointly produces by the U.S. Chamber and Investec Asset Management (IAM), a global investment management firm founded in 1991 in South Africa. Hendrik du Toit, Investec’s CEO, unveiled the report and discussed its findings with a panel of corporate leaders.

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Why Words Matter

Created with WordItOut.

Created with WordItOut.

Researchers have recently identified 23 words they term “ultraconserved,” meaning they haven’t much changed since the end of the Ice Age 15,000 years ago. These words—mother, man, fire, worm, and spit, among others­—sound and mean the same in most Eurasiatic language families. The most commonly shared word is “thou” – the singular form of “you”. Imagine that. Among the nearly 700 languages in these families, stretching from Great Britain to Western China, the Arctic to southern India, all of them share a very close version of this word.

Words matter because they allow us to communicate clearly. A decade ago, no agreed-upon phrase existed in Arabic for corporate governance, making debate and reform difficult. An issue can’t be addressed if it can’t be clearly defined. To that end, a CIPE-led effort resulted in the first standardized term for “corporate governance” in the Arabic language: hawkamat ash-sharikat. Developing a common term opened the door for broad-based dialogue on corporate governance in the Arab world.

Sometimes it seems that CIPE has its own language. Look at the word cloud above, created from CIPE’s 2012 Annual Report. Democracy, business, governance, public sector, private sector. These words are probably familiar, but it might not be immediately clear how they work together.

If you look at it more closely, however, you’ll see they are parts of a fully functioning, democratic, free market society. All of the pieces move together—an empowered, informed electorate can hold its government accountable. A strong private sector forms the engine of job creation and economic growth within a society. A true democracy is dependent on its citizens, its private sector, and its government to act in good faith and with good intentions.

Words matter for what they represent. The words in the image above represent the hard work of CIPE’s partners over the last year. Their stories and successes are inspiring, and we hope you’ll take the time to read about them here.

The Role of Women in Global Business Value Chains

The ability of women to drive change is greatly improved when they are empowered in the economic decisions of their communities. Few videos explain this as much as this one, talking about the girl effect.

Next week, Anna Nadgrodkiewicz, my colleague here at CIPE will attend a forum in New York, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, that will bring together thought leaders and policymakers to discuss the role that women’s economic empowerment plays in development, and how this can be expanded through partnerships. I for one am very excited to hear about what Anna learns in New York, and I look forward to sharing it with you when I get the full report!

On March 8, the U.S. Chamber Business Civic Leadership Center and United Nations Office for Partnerships will celebrate International Women’s Day at the Ford Foundation headquarters. This annual forum brings together leaders committed to the economic empowerment of women. In 2012, these leaders included Lauren Bush Lauren of FEED projects, author of Half the Sky Sheryl WuDunn, Charlotte Oades from Coca-Cola Company, Sarah Thorn from Walmart, and many more who spoke about the role of business in empowering women globally.

In 2013, this forum will expand upon 2012 and explore the influential role women play in the global business value chain. As more women formally enter into the economy, positive macroeconomic externalities include increased productivity for business, increased school attendance for civil society, and higher economic growth rates in host countries—externalities seen in Rwanda and China. However, woman and girls still face many challenges in attaining economic independence. This forum will highlight the influential role women play in the business sector and how companies and their partners are working to catalyze the economic empowerment of women in global markets.

Learn more about the conference at BCLC’s website.

Colin Buerger is Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.

The Business Case for Corporate Governance

From board selection and strategic decision making to day-to-day operations and legal compliance, corporate governance is a way for companies to create a framework for sound business practices, sustained growth, and risk management. At its core, corporate governance entails an internal control system for transparent decision-making that protects shareholders’ value. However, the significance of corporate governance goes far beyond this basic definition.

First, even though corporate governance has traditionally been associated with large publicly listed companies, it is also of crucial importance to other types of businesses, including family firms, state-owned enterprises, and even small businesses. Those companies also need good corporate governance for long-term sustainability and to become integrated into the global supply chains.

Read More…

Making the Most of an Advisory Board

In his recently published book, Essays on Governance, CIPE Board member Andrew Sherman looks at the myriad issues facing entrepreneurs and business owners. Good governance is crucial to building and sustaining a business in a complex, shifting operating environment. Mr. Sherman, a partner at the international law firm Jones Day, excerpts a chapter from the book in CIPE’s most recent Economic Reform Feature Service article. In it, he interviews Verne Harnish, a thought leader on global growth strategies and founder of Gazelles International, who discusses the importance of “The Council,” a concept first introduced by author Jim Collins in his seminal book, Good to Great. Read the article here.

Article at a glance

  • A reliable set of advisors is crucial when a leader plans to expand the business globally.
  • Leadership teams sometimes must work in untraditional ways to develop a deep level of understanding and trust.
  • Disagreement can be productive and can lead to strong management decisions.