Wednesday 8 March marked International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the social, political and cultural achievements of women all over the world. The day is also an important time of reflection, an opportunity to look at what’s been achieved in terms of gender equality and what work still needs to be done.
One of the key areas in which we see a lack of gender equality is in the workforce, on a global level. Unfortunately, in 2017 there is still a clear difference between the way women and men are treated in the workplace and the way in which they are valued. In fact, the World Economic Forum has predicted that the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186 – that’s another 170 years of inequality for female employees.
It’s vital that business leaders take action to address this inequality and encourage a higher representation of female leadership throughout the workforce. Your organisation will also benefit from having more women in leadership roles, as you’ll be encouraging greater diversity of thought and experience – something that is highly valuable in any industry. Alison Kay, global Vice-Chair of Industry at EY, says that after speaking to 350 business leaders, there is "overwhelming agreement that gender diversity is essential to business performance." These leaders also agreed that "more needs to be done to attract, retain and promote women into leadership."
If you’re a CEO, employer or manager, you’re in a strong position to take action on this issue. There are many things you can do to accelerate gender equality within your organisation, creating positive change on a higher level in the process.
As a start, you should:
For individuals, particularly within the context of the current political climate, reading these figures might feel quite depressing. But it’s not just CEOs and employers who can help to create positive change in the workplace. You also have a voice and the right to speak up about gender inequality and bias when you see it. Use International Women’s Day as a reminder to celebrate women’s achievements across the world and advocate for a more gender inclusive world – every day of the year.