The struggle for women’s rights goes ahead for centuries. Yet progress toward equality is still too slow. And Covid19 did not help at all.
The World Economic Forum estimates that it will take 202 years to achieve parity in the workplace. Equality is measured in terms of salary, seniority, and participation. The gap to bridge seems too big for one generation, and the progress is far too slow. However, the awareness that gender equality delivers major economic and social returns could be an excellent accelerator for the process.
Together for “she”
The fight for gender equality appears indeed to be gaining momentum. New social models and groups are born that fight against inequality. The increasingly interconnected new generations create feminist groups of men and women who defend these values. The tradition of gender solidarity is not perceived any more as “we versus them” but rather “we for she“.
On the other hand, Covid-19 has further affected the ‘gender gap’. According to the data of the Gender Gap Report 2021, a one more generation of women will have to wait for gender equality.
This was underlined by Claudia Pavoletti, Ambassador Diversity And Inclusion for McAfee, speaking at one of the panels organized by Traent during the Internet Festival in Pisa.
“Before the pandemic, in the world, it took a woman 99.5 years to access the social and employment opportunities of men according to the latest report in 2021 this figure reached about 136 years.”
In other words, “on the alignment of life between men and women we have personal conditions for another generation. And this gives the idea of where we are going”.
Shade of leadership
Too many decision-makers overrate their intuition, and political agendas interfere with the selection of talented leaders. The presence of women in boards are too often just for show. The phenomen of pinkwashing is spreading while women discrimination in workplace remains unchanged.
Nevertheless, when boards are more gender-equal, companies are more likely to be attuned to the attitudes and behaviors of whole populations, rather than of just one half of them.
Introducing measures that place better leaders in key roles and promote a culture that helps them succeed is essential. A growing number of organisations that are putting in place deliberate interventions to increase the proportion of women in leadership is certainly a sign of progress. However, what cannot be lacking is empowering and selecting better leaders, which would also take care of the gender imbalance. There is no need to choose between boosting gender equality and boosting leadership quality. On the contrary, it is harder to improve the standard of leadership without improving the number of female leaders.
“The gender gap finds all its manifestation for reasons probably cultural and past backwardness – Pavoletti added looking at the situation in Italy – Just look at the situation of women in the institutional sphere, in which there is a significant representative deficit. The Finnish parliament was the first European country to have a female majority (even if the primacy lasted a few hours) no other European country, including Italy, has ever crossed the symbolic threshold of 50%. Therefore, she has to work a lot on the education of the new generations and on the confidence of women to access positions of responsibility”.
Gender equality in the corporate workplace and public life
When women participate at a critical mass in politics, women’s perspectives are better reflected in legislation and decision-making, with measurable consequences on political agendas.
Investing in women’s human capital over the past five decades, measured by i.e. educational attainment, has contributed to economic growth in OECD countries, papers show.
Furthermore, international evidence suggests that when there are significant numbers of women parliamentarians, issues previously unaddressed will come to the fore not least those dealing with access to healthcare, education and other public services, pay equity and violence against women.
Only one conclusion: empowering women brings financial benefits to companies and countries.