Long Road Ahead For Gender Equality
International Women’s day was an opportune time to acknowledge the significant progress made in recent decades towards gender equality ̶̶̶̶̶ particularly in education, health and female participation in the workplace.
In many of today’s economies, women are more educated and employed than ever and in part, we can thank changing social mindsets along with the development of progressive workplace cultures with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion. Western democracies including Finland, Germany and New Zealand are led by women as well as high profile organisations such as the European Central Bank, YouTube, IBM, and Macquarie Group.
However, it is also a time to reflect on how much is still to be done. A recent report by the World Economic Forum concludes that gender parity will not be achieved in our lifetimes. Women remain under-represented in workplaces across the world in almost all the fastest-growing job sectors and are more likely to find themselves displaced by automation. Women in our lifetime will continue to earn less than men, be less likely to advance their careers as far as men and will continue to accumulate less retirement or superannuation savings.
Achieving broadly equal opportunities and outcomes for women has many benefits and has a fundamental bearing on whether economies and societies thrive. From an economic perspective, reducing gender gaps in workforce participation could substantially boost global GDP with the regions currently with the largest gender gaps likely to see the greatest growth benefits.
Equality also benefits organisations themselves with gender diversity increasing innovation, ideas and creativity. Diverse teams can also connect better with clients and customers. More satisfied employees are also more productive, more likely to stay at an organisation for longer, and more likely to recommend it as a great place to work. Across the world, while the future is for increasingly flexible working environments, which support talent retention and create inclusive cultures, there remains a long road ahead to close the gender gap.