Celebrating Women in the Workplace

We’ve made huge progress in terms of greater female empowerment in the workplace but there is still room for improvement as the gender pay gap debate and various harassment campaigns emphasise.

Started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900's, the first International Women's Day was celebrated in 1911; they have a theme this year of #PressforProgress and hope to move forward the agenda of a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

We know that gender parity won't happen overnight, but the good news is that around the world women are making positive gains and there's a robust and growing movement of advocacy, activism and support.

About equality

Equality means ensuring we all have equal opportunities to make the most of our lives and talents, and that no one has poorer life chances due to their background or status. Gender equality refers to women receiving and accessing the same opportunities and benefits as men.

There is a moral and an economic case to make for pressing for progress on this issue. Women make up less than 40 percent of the global labour force, and only 25 percent of management positions globally, while at the same time being responsible for 75 percent of unpaid care work.

The McKinsey Global Institute has shown that narrowing the gender gap in the global labour market would not only be equitable in the broadest sense, but would also double women’s contribution to global GDP growth between 2014 and 2025.

Beating bias

Research shows that companies with more female representation on their board of directors deliver a 36 percent better return on equity than businesses with fewer women on their board. Other statistics suggest gender diversity is a crucial business issue and a missed opportunity for the UK.

For example, if women are able to meet their “full potential” in the workplace, it could boost the UK GDP by £23 trillion by 2025.

Women make up a large pool of untapped talent and that’s just a waste; a more diverse set of decision makers means more creative, innovative decisions and decisions that reflect the experiences of a wider range of people.

We’ve all stories about how women are reluctant to put their hand up for something unless they feel that they're 100% qualified to take it on, while on the whole men are more often likely to put their hand up and say, "I'll have a go". It pays to put support structures in place for the workforce and the most striking difference between male and female respondents is the level of confidence they express in terms of their career aspirations. Confidence is defined as a perception of one’s chances of success in the current environment, rather than confidence in one’s own qualifications, and women need mentoring and encouragement as all too often they sell themselves short.

Respect for all

Equality can only be achieved if the diversity, differences and qualities of women are truly valued. Respect for others is a key value underpinning the ethos and agenda of International Women's Day. Respect for others and self-respect play an important part in forging gender equality.

Gender stereotypes are harmful for men too - 76 percent of girls and 59 percent of boys say they would be interested in a non-traditional work sector if they were given the opportunity; and helping men to empower women is of itself empowering for men.

What we can do at ground level is to try to build a workplace where women are considered as peers, and where everyone has the same share of voice and is heard by all.

Posted: Friday 9 March 2018


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