2021 was another year of progress in the battle to address gender equality in the business world. Many of the articles you’ll see this week will, understandably, draw attention to fantastic examples of female leadership – and rightly so. That’s precisely the point we should all emphasise on International Women’s Day 2022.
We’ll demonstrate the same point in this article. Animate is proud of the strong relationships we have formed with many female business leaders. Gender equality is not a topic we wait until the 8th March to speak up about; it’s something we genuinely believe in. If you follow our daily LinkedIn posts, you’ll know that we regularly champion the importance of diversity, equality, and inclusion in business.
Slow and steady progress
The targets that government and industry have set to address gender equality in business are not exactly challenging. We appreciate that change takes time, but more should be done, and it should be done at an expedited rate. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards.
The government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review shows that women occupy approximately two in five board positions at FTSE 250 companies. That’s great. It’s a 12.5% improvement in female representation from a decade ago. However, ten years is a long time.
The same report names and shames the top-10 worst FTSE 100 businesses regarding their lack of female representation on their boards. It’s concerning that “the list of Top Ten Poorest Performers – and those with the most to do – is again largely unchanged from last year.”
What’s more, three of those top ten poorest performing businesses have no female representation on their board at all. Collectively, those three companies have 21 board positions and don’t have a single woman among them.
That’s inexcusable. It conveys a distinct lack of urgency and a blatant disregard of the need to make a change.
Beyond the obvious reasons, why should businesses change?
If businesses need additional motivation to make positive changes, they should look no further than the needs of their existing and future employees. Society is ever-more intolerant of inequality, and employees prefer employers who take their corporate responsibility on subjects like equality seriously.
A BUPA survey found that 64% of Gen Z are concerned with inequality, compared with 59% of Gen X and 53% of Boomers. That’s a sizeable difference in a relatively short timeframe.
Those figures have additional significance when you consider that Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025.
Further Benefits of female leadership
Many studies have pointed to the business benefits of having women in leadership roles. This Forbes article highlights a number of those points, but first, it prefaces the list with a word on the validity of the research behind them:
“A great deal of scientific research has tried to address this question. Unlike data from consulting or human capital firms, this research is published in independent peer-reviewed academic journals, which tend to ensure higher objectivity, as well as more rigorous methodological scrutiny. However, because most people do not have access to scientific journals, the findings are not often accessible to the wider public. So, what do these studies report?”
Here are some of the benefits mentioned in the Forbes article:
- Businesses tend to perform better.
- Businesses improve in areas such as monitoring and oversight.
- Improved financial metrics.
- Reduced likelihood of lawsuits, reputation scandals, and corporate crime.
- Businesses tend to be more innovative.
What’s next? What more can we do to effect change?
If you’re in a position to be able to effect change for the better and you’re wondering what you can do next, please take a look at the following resources:
- The United Nations Global Compact initiative has a collection of valuable resources, including a set of Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and a Gender Gap Analysis Tool.
- The European Commission also has some valuable resources available on their website, including advice on gender equality strategy and information about gender pay comparisons.
- Scottish-based charity Close The Gap is a wealth of information on all matters of gender equality in the workplace. They work with companies in the public and private sectors and can draw upon their experience of working with union representatives.
We’ll end the article by reiterating what we alluded to at the beginning. Progress has been made, but more needs to be done. Hopefully, International Women’s Day serves as a reminder to the business world that we need to continue addressing gender equality.