LeaseLine’s approach to gender equality in micro-enterprise leasing

Published on 6 February 2024

In the realm of leasing, women often face multifaceted barriers that limit their access and involvement in financial transactions. From challenges in accessing capital to confronting gender biases in decision-making processes, these barriers underscore the need for a more inclusive and equitable leasing landscape. LeaseLine, a Belgium-based leasing broker with over 35 years of experience, recognizes the significance of addressing these challenges.

Becoming a signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) in June 2023, LeaseLine’s mission involves dedicated efforts to address gender inequalities in entrepreneurship. For micro-sized enterprises like them, the WEPs serve as a crucial framework for fostering gender equality and inclusivity. WEPs provide guidance tailored to the unique challenges faced by smaller businesses, emphasizing that even micro-sized enterprises play a vital role in advancing women's empowerment within the private sector. Through the WEPs, the company demonstrates its commitment to creating a workplace that champions gender equality and addresses the needs of a micro-sized enterprise.

LeaseLine Women MembersTargeting gender inequality in the workplace

In Belgium, where fathers and co-parents are entitled to twenty days of birth leave with partial pay, LeaseLine recognized the challenge of unequal caregiving responsibilities that often burden women. To address this issue, the company has implemented a ‘Paid Parental Leave policy’, which advocates for equal, paid leave opportunities for both parents, aligning with “treating all women and men fairly at work” as per Principle 2. This policy prioritizes certain key factors: encouraging shared caregiving responsibilities, promoting awareness of active parental involvement, balancing financial feasibility for the micro-enterprise, and advocating for individual choices, emphasizing freedom to opt in or out without obligation. It also works to enhance women’s career prospects and secure future career opportunities to prevent financial setbacks due to childbirth.

Initially, the company faced institutional barriers when pursuing equalized parental leave. Limited government support and scarce examples of smaller enterprises implementing similar policies made balancing financial capabilities and desired equal outcomes for workers challenging. Despite these obstacles, it ultimately led to a tailored policy where the WEPs were implemented to address gender inequalities in the workplace under Principle 3 “Promote employee health, well-being, and safety”.

The company’s work policies further promote inclusivity by providing flexible work hours and work locations to meet the needs of its employees’ home situations. Its ‘Inclusive Hormonal Well-Being policy’, tailored for all employees who experience (peri)menopause, dysmenorrhea or other hormonal health problems adds another layer of support, further recognizing and addressing the unique health challenges faced by female women and male men employees in the workplace.

Open dialogue plays a crucial role in detecting evolving needs, leading to adjustments in the code of conduct to achieve gender equality. The company’s commitment to the WEPs extends to equipping its employees to respond effectively to inappropriate behavior, and fostering a culture of respect, to empower its workers with the skills required for a confident and secure presence within and beyond the workplace.  

As a micro-enterprise, the company’s active promotion of gender equality on social media stands as a significant contribution to advancing SDG5 and the SDGs more broadly. Despite its small scale, the company's commitment to challenging stereotypes and biases is part of a collective effort to address societal norms that contribute to gender equality. By actively participating in this broader mission, they exemplify how even micro-enterprises can play a vital role in accelerating progress towards the achievement of SDGs through the WEPs, creating positive societal change.

Measuring and reporting for WEPs impact as a micro-enterprise

To measure the impact of gender equality initiatives, LeaseLine tracks and reports its progress on a regular basis, as per Principle 7. The organization is committed to regular assessments, data tracking, and making necessary adjustments for better WEPs alignment in its business practices. For example, The company is dedicated to eradicating discrimination through transparent communication of salaries and growth opportunities and additional training initiatives to raise awareness among all employees. 

Fostering Principle 7 leads to more open dialogue that starts conversations on gender equality. Their recommendation to fellow signatories entering their WEPs journey is to swiftly identify unconscious biases and unknown factors by facilitating informed discussions with the entire team to pinpoint priority areas for improvement. It is key to secure full support from the CEO and management to ensure a shared understanding of gender equality within the entire company. Measuring provides an opportunity to identify actions and translate them into assessable benchmarks for continuous improvement. 

Despite facing challenges as a micro-enterprise seeking to implement equalized parental leave without government support, the WEPs serves as a guiding framework for LeaseLine to establish inclusive policies and practices. Looking ahead, the company will continue its WEPs implementation by concentrating on reporting measures. This commitment involves regular assessments to track data, ensuring clarity in alignment with the WEPs by developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with a specific focus on integrating gender equality metrics. The company’s WEPs journey highlights the possibilities for small businesses but also emphasizes the broader significance of reporting. Committing to transparency and accountability, irrespective of size, contributes to the collective impact of the WEPs, even in the context of micro enterprises.