What CEOs Who Care About Gender Equality Must Discuss

/ 02:16 AM January 06, 2019

In the era of the #MeToo movement and women speaking up on the lack of gender equality experienced on a daily basis, it is more important than ever for entrepreneurs to foster women empowerment in their businesses.

Entrepreneurs may have a pre-attached stigma against gender equality and women empowerment. From the recruitment process to retirement, a CEO might be tipped to favor men against women thinking such is an investment and protection against financial costs, but it isn’t.

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The Big Picture

When it comes to gender equality in the workplace, women speaking up are not enough. Women have tried and failed to promote women empowerment in their workplaces. In a work environment dominated by men, it is not hard to see why.

Aside from pay and harassment, women experience the lack of gender equality and women empowerment in promotions. Men are likely to be promoted at a rate of 21 percent higher than women from the first promotion. If a candidate pool consists of one woman, she has statistically no chance of getting the job on the basis of her gender alone. This is why women represent only 5 percent of the CEOs in the Fortune 500 and only 38 in the managerial positions.

The battle for gender equality and women empowerment is presently centuries worth of work. It will take 217 years to achieve gender equality, 168 in the US and Canada alone. In 2018 alone, only 38 percent of the 279 companies who participated in the 2018 Women in the Workplace study set targets for gender representation.

However, it is an issue that CEOs should be addressing. According to Pipeline’s research across over 4,000 companies in 29 countries, for every 10 percent increase in gender equality is a 1-2 percent increase in revenue. CEOs who care about gender equality are those who love their companies and their people —  especially women.

Therefore, it is important to include companies in the discussion on gender equality and women empowerment, and it starts with our CEOs.

CEOs Who Care About Gender Equality

In 2017, PricewaterCoopers (PWC) launched the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion which saw 500 CEOs of the world’s leading companies signing on. Included in the list are marquee companies such as Cisco, HP, Morgan Stanley and Walmart. CEO Action has then asked CEOs to hold a discussion of understanding. However, how do they address the very same issue they benefit from, in a discussion obviously dominated by more male CEOs than there are women?

A CEO with a long-term vision in the best interests of his company will have to go back to the problems that hinder growth. In going back, there is a need for discussion on the lack of gender equality and women empowerment. How would the discussion among CEOs go?

It may have to be a discussion where the few women who compromise the group of CEOs speak up, as opposed to statistics revealing they only talk 8 percent of the time on corporate earning calls.

The CEOs who care about gender equality may also have to concede to the fact that workplaces push women who break the metaphorical glass ceiling off the glass cliff.

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From the Glass Ceiling to the Glass Cliff  

Women are often unable to keep leadership positions because once they do get assigned to one, it is during crisis situations where it would be easy to blame them. A quote from the literary book A Thousand Splendid Suns goes “Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman.” This is evident especially in the workplace devoid of gender equality and women empowerment.

They often fall in precarious leadership positions where they are required to handle unsolvable problems because of the bias attached to their gender. Women are associated with people-management skills while men are known for aggressive decisions and stability. The unfair bias based on gender alone is the reason why women only experience leadership in tough times. Research points to 67 percent of its participants choosing a male leader during the company’s smooth-sailing times, while 63 percent see a woman leader as the perfect fit while the company is in crisis. Eventually, it would be easy to blame the woman until she resigns.

CEOs who care about gender equality would welcome a woman leader to commit long-term to leadership where she stands in the company both in good and bad times.

Motherhood and Women Empowerment

Women are seen as less committed to their jobs simply because they are mothers.

They face workplace penalties simply for being mothers. It is a 4 percent earning drop in hourly wages per child, contrasting with statistics revealing mothers are the breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children.

In what minimal wages they earn, they use on grocery, housing, and childcare. Unfair stigma points women spend their money on recreational spending on purses and shoes, in a society where husbands supposedly work and supplement for the family income.

Closing the gender pay gap alone cuts the poverty rate for working single mothers in half, leading to more productivity, chances of their career advancement, and a workplace championing gender equality and women empowerment.

CEOs who care about gender equality see motherhood as the driving force for good work, with statistics proving mothers are the most productive employees throughout their careers.

The Influence of CEOs Who Care About Gender Equality

It may be hard to trust when tried-and-tested tradition favors men, but benefits such as fair recruitment processes, proper wage compensation for women, and respect for their abilities go a long way.

Whether it is a small or big business, there is good investment ahead for CEOs who care about gender equality. More women empowerment in the workplace leads to more revenue. Subsequently, failing to regard gender equality and putting men above the corporate ranks simply because of gender not only drives good leaders and employees away but puts the company in bad financial shape.

There may be a long way to go before achieving women empowerment in the workplace. But through their power, CEOs who care about gender equality will lead the change not only for the corporate world but for the economy and gender dynamics across the globe. All it takes is a discussion among CEOs who care about gender equality and more women sitting with them.

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