There are always winners and losers in the war for talent, and the stakes are higher than ever for companies that want to achieve gender equality.
Movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and the significant global rise in International Women's Day activity in every corner of the world. This year’s theme - #EmbraceEquity, is making headway for women to bring their whole selves to work and shedding more light on the challenges women face in the workplace.
Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have. A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society's DNA. It's something we need to consider, know, and embrace at all touchpoints.
Collective activism is what drives change. From grassroots to wide-scale momentum, we can all play our part in embracing equity. But the rise of women does not mean the fall of men. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In more recent years, men as advocates and champions of change have been recognised as a significant step in accelerating women's equality. Many progressive CEOs and influential leaders are more committed than ever to help build diverse and inclusive organisations that challenge stereotypes and bias.
We need men as our allies. And if we are truly going to embrace equity, we need men to join us.
According to the Women in the Workplace 2022 report, the biggest obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership is at the first step up to manager.
Women leaders want to advance, but they face much stronger headwinds than men. Compared to men at their level, women leaders do more to support employee well-being and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion—work that dramatically improves retention and employee satisfaction but is not formally rewarded in most companies.
What is intrinsically true is that women, at all levels, are demanding a better work culture. Women are significantly more likely than men leaders to leave their jobs because they want more flexibility or because they want to work for a company that is more committed to employee well-being and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Companies that don’t act may struggle to recruit and retain the next generation of women leaders, and for companies that already have a “broken rung” in their leadership pipeline, this comes with worrisome implications.
Many women experience bias not only because of their gender, but also because of their race, sexual orientation, a disability, or other aspects of their identity—and the compounded discrimination can be much greater than we might realise. As a result, these groups of women often experience more microaggressions and face even more barriers to advancement.
The option to work remotely is especially important to women. Remote and hybrid work options are a game-changer for female employees, especially in this current climate. But although these types of working conditions are delivering real benefits, they may also be creating new challenges.
What we know from the Global Gender Gap Report 2022 is that women leaders are also overworked at home. Men’s share of time spent in unpaid work is 19%, compared with 55% for women. Employees who can choose their work arrangements are less likely to leave their employer.
As far as we have come in gender equality, women are still expected to be the primary caregivers in their homes, and more likely to undertake a larger portion of the domestic household duties than their spouses. In fact, women with children under six years of age, for example, absorbed a disproportionate amount of unpaid care work compared to men.
What is exciting, is that the changes to paid parental leave benefits and the shift in attitude towards men taking up a more equal share of household responsibilities is extremely promising.
The Gender Gap Report also found that across the 146 covered by the Health and Gender pay gap index, only one country from East Asia and the Pacific region, took a position in the top 10 - New Zealand at (84.1%, 4th). Australia ranked 43rd after countries such as Rwanda, Serbia and Albania. Iceland, Finland and Norway take up the top spots.
At this pace, East Asia and the Pacific region will need 168 years to close the gender gap. However, within the region, there are important differences in countries’ progress.
To make meaningful and sustainable progress toward gender equality, companies should focus on two broad goals: getting more women into leadership and retaining the women leaders they already have. Moreover, encouraging men to educate themselves, join the conversation and bring women to the table, can help the entire team reach ultimate success.
This will require pushing the boundaries and breaking unconscious bias to level the playing field. Companies that want to see better results would benefit from following their lead and breaking new ground.