3 ways to make the 2020s the decade we close the gender gap.

 
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Byline: Saadia Zahidi

At the present rate of progress, it could take us nearly 100 years to get to gender parity.

Since 2006, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index has been measuring differences between men and women in four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The 2020 index shows that, despite some progress, we are still a dispiriting 99.5 years away from a gender-equal world.

Why is this? And more importantly, how can we turn the 2020s into the decade of parity? What would it take to dramatically disrupt past trends and build on recent success stories to create a new momentum towards parity?

Here are three ways to make the next decade the one when we finally achieve gender parity.

  1. Business leadership on gender parity is better for workers - and leads to better outcomes for the bottom line.

    On average, only 55% of adult women are in the labour market, versus 78% of men. And women only earn 60% of what men do for the same work, with half as much non-wage income.

    Business leadership on closing gender gaps in employment and value chains is therefore critical - and expected in an era of stakeholder capitalism and the values of a new generation. This is important not just for building inclusive workplaces that appeal to the workers - and families - of today, but it also makes business sense. The most diverse companies are also those with better long-term performance. This is not surprising: diverse teams integrate a broader set of information on risk, reward and values when they make decisions and consistently outperform homogenous teams. These trends are likely to be magnified in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the changing business landscape.

    The countries with the most women on boards tend to have quotas or policies to support parity

  2. Both policy incentives and political role models are necessary for "hurrying history."

    Today, 25% of the 35,127 global parliamentary seats are occupied by women and 21% of the 3,343 ministers globally are women. In addition, over the past 50 years, 68 of the 153 countries covered by the latest report have had a female head of state. The latest - Finland - has elected the world's youngest prime minister.

    As more women reach visible positions of power, it creates a virtuous cycle, normalizing the association of women and leadership for future generations. The role-model effect is already visible: countries...

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