Here Are 5 Reasons Gender Equality is Becoming a Reality
As we kick off a new year, it is encouraging to see that we are entering 2019 with a historically high commitment to gender equality from both businesses and investors. Cultural shifts and better performance from more inclusive companies have accelerated the drive for greater equality throughout organizations, from the boardroom to entry-level positions. However, greater equality isn’t achieved by accident. It results from continued dedication and deliberate initiatives. Reflecting on last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos and the informative discussion that took place on the importance of inclusion in today’s enterprise, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a closer look at the key trends that are driving the evolution of equality.
I believe there are five factors that will accelerate this evolution: leadership and commitment from the world’s senior-most executives, investor interest in gender-related and other ESG data, superior performance of more inclusive firms, the shift in capital control towards women and, finally, increasing competition in the recruitment, retention and productivity of human capital.
First and foremost, achieving workplace equality requires commitment and action from the top. Executives and boards need to catalyze change throughout an organization in order for it to last. This starts with representation among directors, which is the foundational goal of the 30% Club, an organization I am fortunate enough to chair in the U.S. Our members recognize that gender equality in the boardroom encourages more responsible governance and leadership—and enables better decision-making and stronger corporate performance. They’re also taking concrete action: Our public company members reached an average of 30 percent female directors last year, up from an average of 22 percent when we first launched in 2014.
In addition to appointing a greater number of women to directorships and other senior leadership roles, we’re witnessing more executives who are embracing their role in shaping company culture and leading by example. Many are actively participating in inclusion initiatives such as unconscious-bias training or employee forums, sending a powerful message to managers and other colleagues throughout their organizations.
Pressure from investors, amidst growing evidence that diversity and inclusion positively impact the bottom line, is also driving action. As investors increasingly seek to incorporate gender-related data in their investment analyses, more companies will be inclined to disclose statistics around equality. The Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) is already demonstrating evidence of that trend: The 2019 index more than doubled this year to include 230 firms committed to advancing women in the workplace. The GEI provides investors with comprehensive, standardized information to measure how companies are promoting gender equality across company statistics, employee policies and benefits, gender-conscious product offerings and community support.