A large part of the work that I do is to bring awareness to what gender equality is, what the benefits are and how we can all play our part no matter how small. It’s amazing to think that in 2023 we still need to educate and inform on this subject. For some, it may be too late, however, I do believe that we can influence and educate the younger generations effectively. Tackling this at a grassroots level is where our focus needs to be. Letting students know that when they enter the working world, they can bring about the change, create inclusive teams and embrace diversity so we all may thrive.
I think there can be a misconception that gender equality is a woman’s issue, but it is a Human Rights issue and men are able to play their part in evoking change for women in the workplace. A subconscious notion that women should be quiet, and men are the leaders, is archaic, yet still, we seem to be led by an all-consuming autocratic patriarchal leadership.
Since 2015, progress toward gender equality has been marginal, and now COVID-19 has hit women hard. Six years ago, when I created the first women's network on behalf of a corporation, hardly anyone spoke of gender equality. People are now at least beginning to talk about it, that said, there still is little change. Research shows that gender equality and equal representation at board level of men and women leaders, not only leads to higher corporate returns, but also, increased productivity, and innovation. McKinsey cities, that advancing women’s equality can add a whopping $12 Trillion to the Global GDP.
Back in 2015,193 countries that make up the United Nations came together to commit to 17 sustainable development goals. Number 5 focuses on gender equality. An ambitious target was set to achieve gender equality by 2030. Conclusively, a large gender gap remains across the world and Covid-19 has led to a regressive effect.
Patriarchal Leaders are leaders who use certain brain functions to drive individual agendas and to control the experience of others. Patriarchal leadership supports the notion that traditionally ‘male’ behaviours are right while other ways of expressing we are wrong. These qualities include power, control, objectivity, critical thinking, and competitiveness. These behaviours negate the value of collaboration, cooperation, emotional expressiveness, empathy, caring and concern for the experience of employees, which are traditional right brain functional qualities - and usually associated with women.
Not only is there a moral and social cause for equal representation of women in the workplace we also need to address the unpaid work done by women in the home. Statistically, women do three times as much unpaid work as men even when they work full time. The ‘double shift’ means women are working far harder all round as gender stereotypes of women should be the homemaker remain as unconscious biases.
I see many companies who embrace gender equality on women's day or companies who throw money at the issue as a flimsy PR effort at a women's event, yet when you scratch the surface, they are not gender equal at all. I see this with lots of construction companies in the Middle East. I also often see companies having panel talks to discuss sustainability. Usually with a gaggle of white males leading the conversation. How can discussions surrounding sustainability NOT include women?! It baffles me to say the least. If these companies spent their PR money on investing in female talent as opposed to just keeping up appearances, I believe we could start to see progress!
Just to unpack the facts and stats a little more. For every 100 men in leadership globally, there are just 37 women. In 2020 a study was undertaken. 1000 companies in 15 different countries were analyzed in terms of gender diversity at leadership level. Those in the top quartile for gender diversity where 25 percent had above average profitability the last quartile.
The companies who were gender diverse are 26 percent more likely to outperform their competitors when it comes to profitability. A profound reason for a change of patriarchal leadership indeed.
In order to create long lasting change companies, need to double down and put gender equality at the heart of the strategy and vision. All stakeholders should work collaboratively to create impactful solutions when it comes to addressing the complexity of reaching gender equality.
Company policies should support women. Creating female friendly environments in order to attract and retain female talent. It's time to look at workplace cultures and talent management structures to ensure when companies are hiring and considering promotions that policies are fair and inclusive of all genders and ethnicities.
With only seven years left until 2030, to meet SDG we can accelerate progress. A gender equal world is a sustainable world.