International Women’s Day 2016

iwd.jpgToday is International Women’s Day and this year organisers are asking everyone to #PledgeForParity. Despite the contribution women make to social, economic, cultural and political development, gender parity, whereby men and women are equal in status and pay, has not yet been achieved and is unlikely to be achieved in the near future without significant support. In fact, progress has slowed in many places and where the World Economic forum was predicting that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity, they have now revised this to an estimate that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2133.

Women are the largest emerging market in the world, account for half of the global labour supply and about 70% of global consumption demand. Failing to achieve gender parity will stunt economic and social development while meeting this goal will bring greater economic prosperity. Global studies have found the following outcomes when women are equal in business and politics:

  • Higher GDP
  • More productivity
  • Better share prices and financial performance
  • Better all-round performance
  • More prosperity

As one study puts it “Greater gender equality in educational and employment opportunities fosters faster, more inclusive growth, not only because women are half of the world’s population but also because they are more likely than men to invest in the human capital of their families”.

The report, Women. Fast Forward: The time for gender parity is now, offers some ideas on how to speed up efforts to achieve gender equality. Key findings of the report, based on survey data from 400 companies around the world, include:

  • Men and women alike agree that more female leadership leads to stronger companies
  • 64% of high-performing companies reported that men and women have equal influence on strategy in their organizations, compared with only 43% of the lower-performing companies
  • Men seem to be aware of the unconscious bias in the workplace that holds women back, which means we now can spend more time identifying and eradicating it

Aside from communicating the benefits of achieving gender parity and identifying the barriers to meeting this goal, what can be done to accelerate women’s advancement? IWD 2016 reports three complementary pathways:

  • Make career opportunities more visible to women
  • Develop progressive corporate policy, such as paternity leave and flexible working
  • Build supportive environments to eliminate conscious and unconscious bias

To see these pathways in action, read EY’s case study for how they created a Pledge For Parity campaign for their own employees.

IWD 2016 is asking everyone to commit to positive action to help achieve gender parity more quickly than the estimated timeframe, for example helping “women and girls achieve their ambitions”, calling for “gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference”, or developing “more inclusive and flexible cultures”. They are asking people to champion their own #PledgeForParity campaign – “Helping others recognize the impact of their actions on behalf of women, cascades awareness and behavioural change which accelerates achievement of the economic value of gender parity”. For resources on how to guide your campaign click here. For a list of events and activities taking place around International Women’s Day 2016 visit here. And for a brief history of IWD and discussion of why the day is still necessary, see this article.


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