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More Women Are Needed In The C-suite

Attitudes have undoubtedly changed, but residual sexism is still holding back gender parity

19May

The world is changing, and so are attitudes towards gender equality. However, while many old-fashioned stereotypes have been replaced by new approaches and more open views, the issue of inequality is still far from being resolved. There is, though, glimmers of hope that one day the world will become a completely fair place.

Women are no longer a weaker gender simply because they never were. Historical events have meant women haven't been given the opportunities to compete with men. However, time after time, they have proven themselves to be as good as men, if not better, and gradually changed even the most entrenched perceptions. Let's get it right, feminism is not about women looking to have the world handed to them on a plate, locking all men in the dungeon guarded by dragons. It is about equality and providing the same amount of opportunities for both genders and, in equal proportions.

However, gender equality is hard to achieve. There is much debate about the topic, and the main problem remains that both sides cannot achieve an ultimate consensus. People may have different opinions but when it comes to business, it is better to do what’s best for the company and its strategy. Despite the improvement over the past few years, women are still underrepresented at every level in the corporate pipeline, especially at a senior level, yet they are still proving to be as skilled and qualified as men.

Every company wants to make sure it hires the best professionals in the industry and it's proven that a big proportion of the most desirable potential employees are women. Progressive executives know that gender equality is not only the right thing to do but also a smart move. According to McKinsey Global Institute analysis, if every country would move towards gender equality of its fastest-growing neighbor, global GDP could increase by up to $12 trillion by 2025.

Whilst some countries are still uncertain of whether to change their business approaches, there are some facts and figures which support the view. In the US, entry-level women professionals were at 45% in 2015. According to McKinsey's Women in the Workplace survey, C-suite level female professionals, on the other hand, were only at 17%, marking progress of only 1% since 2012. Obviously, the CEO role is an incredibly difficult position to reach for both genders but let's face it, 1% growth in three years, is not something we can be proud of.

Unconscious bias remains the main obstacle on the way to gender equality. For example, imagine a male marathon runner. He would probably hear something along the lines of, 'keep going! Great race ahead of you!' as he raced. Now imagine a female marathon runner. Sadly, often being the victims of stereotypes, women would likely get, 'are you sure you want to run? Don't you want kids one day?' As the race went on, the man would be cheered louder, 'yes, go! You've got this!' while the woman would carry on receiving abuse, 'are you sure you should be running when you have kids who need you at home?' It is this kind of attitude that is still very much evident in the world of work, which still hasn't moved on from the cliche of women only fitting particular roles and them facing gender-based judgment on a daily basis.

On the positive side, we have women like Mary Barra (General Motors), Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard) and Virginia Rometty (IBM) and 19 more, who made it to the list of Fortune 500's CEOs. Shockingly, it is only 4.4% of all CEOs on the list, meaning there is still a long way to go. 

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