In Davos last week at the World Economic Forum's Equality Lounge, frustration was mounting because of the slow progress world leaders, parliaments, corporations and other organisations are making to advance gender equality. The DrivenWoman team were there for the second time and four key themes stood out for us.
The female leaders were clearly getting tired about slow progress made to advance diversity and inclusion overall, but it is clear that the leading global companies are moving light years ahead. Talent war will be won by those progressive companies and UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guiding corporate processes will become mainstream in the corporate world.
Frustration for slow progress leads to 'constructive anger'
The dissatisfaction for failure to advance gender equality was evident at the Equality Lounge. Last year's optimism had turned into slight irritation expressed by female leaders heading the UN Global Goal #5 - Gender Equality. It was a cry for action, noticing that is is time to turn talk into action. We don't need to raise more awareness, it's time to see tangible results. Like for climate, we've entered a gender crisis. Everyone must take action. Women can no longer expect someone else to fix things for them. It's time to step outside our comfort zone and lead the gender movement.
“To reach gender equality organisations must redefine themselves. Everyone must redefine themselves. Women have to redefine themselves.” concluded Ann Rosenberg, SVP for UN Partnerships at SAP.
“We see all the internal processes within companies and they are not changing." She called for everything to be redefined. The way businesses are run, including all their internal processes must change to reach the goal on diversity and inclusion. Gender equality and inclusion has to be placed at the heart of company mission.
“The power of empathy and collaboration will change everything. The feminine values within women and men will change everything.” declared Shelley Zalis, founder of the Female Quotient, company behind the Equality Lounge.
It’s time to move from awareness to action. We’ve seen some progress but the world is dramatically behind reaching these goals and gender is actually moving backwards. In terms of economic participation, the gender gap will now take 257 years to close (compared to 202 years in last years WEF report).
"I'm calling for everyone to get 'constructively angry' and take action." concluded Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of UN Global Compact.
Companies who don't simply rely on policy changes but are able to help women build confidence and inner strength will be best placed to take decisive action. That's very much our mission. DrivenWoman's Lifeworking program helps women redefine themselves and connect to their inner drive to front the change that is needed.
Leading global companies are light years ahead with their inclusion and diversity programs
However, it was not all doom and gloom. The corporate leaders who took the stage at the Equality Lounge painted a pretty picture of workplaces that have already reached gender equality and are promoting a diverse workforce.
One of the companies boasting they had reached their gender targets was Adobe who hit global gender pay parity in 2018. Removing the pay gap has been one of the key targets in their "de-biasing" process.
"Innovation comes from a difference of thought." says Adobe's VP EMEA, Claire Darley. Diversity and inclusion is also promoted through 'opportunity parity' tracking every opportunity and promotion to make sure everyone has equal access.
Like many companies we talked to, Adobe has reached 50/50 entry level gender balance but then women leave at mid-career when it's time for the first child or the first real promotion. Adobe is addressing the mid-level talent drain by offering same time off for all parents (women and men).
"Diverse teams will win every time." Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan
According to Louise Pentland, Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer of PayPal there’s 19% higher level of innovation in companies who score above average in diversity. "When everyone feels included it fuels empathy towards the customers and also towards each other.”
Karen Carter, Chief Human Resources Officer from Dow stressed the importance of activating the masses and the importance of offering opportunities for everyone, not just the high achievers, to make the change. “Without inclusion you can’t reap the benefits on a human or financial level.”
Addressing gender balance only at the entry level or simply focusing on getting more senior women into leadership is not the answer and will not lead to desired results in terms of retaining talent and fuelling innovation. Companies must offer support to women at all levels and programs such as DrivenWoman's Lifeworking program can deliver results across the organisation.
The talent war will be won by progressive companies
“The world is dividing into two parts. Those who think the SDGs are ‘nice to have’ and want to just ‘tick the box’ to look good on their annual report. And those who take SDGs in the heart of their business.” said Ann Rosenberg.
"There's a talent war out there. The best way to win is to retain your people. The best way to retain your people is to inspire them." Steven Dementriou, CEO of Jacobs Engineering,
"We know 30% women leaders work. We know diversity is good for business." repeats Shelly Zalis.
Goldman Sachs came out with a new policy that they will no longer take companies public unless they have at least one woman on their board. The move is definitely a step into right direction but that one woman is still likely to feel extremely intimidated. If companies want feminine values to flourish they need a sisterhood, a minimum of three women on boards.
“Diversity is one of the key pillars to win in the 20’s. Diverse teams produce one third higher profit margins.” claims Maj-Britt Poulsen, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group.
All this is a great message for women. If you feel frustrated and undervalued in your current role it's time to have that difficult conversation with your boss, which as we have learned may not go that badly as she/he is likely to do more for you than you can anticipate. And if you still can't see a positive change it's time to take your brilliance elsewhere. There are plenty of companies who are committed to building a gender balanced and inclusive workforce.
UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guiding corporate processes will become mainstream
UN's SDGs were designed for governments but companies are adopting them. There are 17 global goals and gender equality is number Goal #5. Ten actions have been defined per each goal such as "Increase gender representation in ares of leadership" and "Make flexibility and work-life balance a part of the company culture". These are the must have's but may not guarantee results fast.
It's also important to "Help women build their confidence and develop their careers" and "If you are a woman, know your rights and stand up for them". Companies who help women to do the internal work to find their inner drive and the courage to show up authentically at work will reap the rewards.
"Companies must set measurable targets for SDGs, take action and track progress." repeated Lise Kingo.
The global goals will become a tool for companies to transform the way they do business. The world's leading company in implementing the SDGs is Unilever. They have been working on these for a very long time. Commitment is the key for change and results take time.
The SDGs are a great opportunity for women to lead the way. Women must front the SDG movement. The feminine values are urgently needed to make them happen! Women can use the SDGs to drive the conversation and disrupt internal agenda.
Missing on the agenda - the rising feminine
The conversation is still very much centered on bringing more diversity into the workforce and filling seats with women. And whilst we could sense a little bit of tiredness in this agenda, everyone knows this. Everyone is aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion.
The real change will be brought in by making the feminine principle the heart of the conversation. It's not about how we get more female 'bodies' into the office, but how we awaken the conscious feminine within everyone (women and men) so that the feminine values can guide business.
DrivenWoman helps women find their inner drive and awaken those feminine values. It is important women start showing up as their authentic selves, not copying men for success. Our Lifeworking programme focuses on accountability to encourage action and raising self awareness. Women support each other to step outside their comfort zone and proactively take action to move forward in their career. You cannot teach confidence, but you can build it by experiencing it through taking risks.
To find out more about our programmes for corporations click here.
DrivenWoman is a female only empowerment platform and accountability network, that helps ambitious women to achieve their goals and dreams by creating positive habits one step at a time. Thousands of women around the world have joined our program and are achieving their life goals, which range from entrepreneurial dreams to career change or simply being more confident in their own skin and enjoying life in the present moment.
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