Maureen A. Kilgour, PhD, is a Professor in the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Winnipeg. She is a co-founder and co-chair of the PRME Working Group on Gender Equality and was a member of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group from 2011 to 2018. She researches global governance, business and human rights and corruption, with a special focus on gender equality and has co-edited three books ‘Integrating Gender into Business and Management Education’(2015);‘Overcoming Challenges to Gender Equality in the Workplace: Leadership and Innovation’ (2016) and ‘Gender Equality and Responsible Business: Expanding CSR Horizons’ (2016). Her current research focusses on gender inequality, business and human rights, corruption, the Sustainable Development Goals, and corporate responsibility. She studies the ways in which corporations are involved in rule-making and rule-implementation in global governance and the impact of this involvement on marginalized groups.
Corruption, Gender Inequality and the Clothes We Wear
Corruption and gender inequality are intimately linked in the global textiles industry. Over 75% of textile workers are women and girls, often with little formal education and living in poverty. Factory fires and collapses in the Global South occur regularly, despite corporate commitments to prevent them. For example, the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse killed over 1000 workers, mostly women and girls. Gender inequality and corruption working in tandem contributed to this disaster. Companies along the supply chain committed to improving conditions for these workers, many focusing on women and girls. This paper examines corporate responses to these disasters, using gender and corruption lenses. It contrasts corporate efforts with the determination of self-empowered women and girls working in those textile factories. It highlights links between corruption, gender inequality and the clothes we wear and draws attention to how the current global system creates, perpetuates and sometimes addresses gender inequality.