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Is Creating Shared Value Gender-Sensitive?

Empowering women through lingerie
Is Creating Shared Value Gender-Sensitive?
Publ. date 2 May 2014
The unique lingerie brand Naja produces lingerie with a purpose and is a great example of putting the Creating Shared Value concept into practice. With their initiative ‘Underwear for Hope’ the company empowers women in South America through education and employment. By offering training and job opportunities for women in the poorest regions of Colombia, Naja gives women chances to develop their skills and receive a regular income.

Radically different underwear

Naja founded the ‘Underwear for Hope’ program to empower women in Colombia together with its partner, the Golondrinas Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of natural resources and environmental education. They teach women how to sew lingerie, and after the course Naja employs them to help create its luxury underwear. For every purchase made anywhere in the world, the company donates a percentage of sales that goes to the entrepreneurial sewing initiative in South America.

Naja's lingerie is characterized by the use of luxurious materials with attention for details, but all products are fairly priced. “We do not believe you should have to pay $80 for a high quality bra,” says Catalina Girald, founder of Naja. For Naja it is important that women experience luxurious lingerie as an item that make them feel good about themselves, and that the products are affordable. The underwear brand links luxurious, affordable lingerie for women with its social responsibility for poor women in Colombia.

Masculinity versus femininity

The aim of Naja is to create a culture where women help each other. Through manufacturing products in the spirit of ‘for women, by women’ raises the question: In which way is this CSV initiative gender sensitive? Would the ethical lingerie brand be as successful when Naja provided education and employment for the most poor men in Colombia while producing male underwear? Probably not, because the Underwear for Hope program appeals to emotional, feminine aspects such as empathy, caring for the weaker ones and a preference for cooperation.

In addition, female lingerie is a high interest product to both men and women. Its attractiveness has been decisive for the Underwear for Hope program. Naja understood that the 'sex appeal' of lingerie served as the perfect driver for success and carried it through in its entire concept. Although Naja does not want to position itself as a highly sexualized brand, it does use the advantages of lingerie and its charm proposition in a succesful way. So not the gender but the attractiveness of the CSV proposition is a key driver for success.

How to drive sustainable innovation?

Are you also looking for initiatives with impact? GLOBE-US, our process tool based on the Business Model Generation-approach of Osterwalder and Pigneur, embraces new developments in sustainability such as creating shared value. If you are interested in how GLOBE-US could help your company with sustainable innovation, please contact Nikkie Vinke, Senior Consultant at or +31 6 28 02 18 80.

Nikkie Vinke
About Nikkie Vinke

Seasoned advisor in ESG benchmarking, sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. |

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