We are in a time of fourth wave feminism, where we are focusing on the empowerment of women and striving for gender equality by addressing gender stereotypes and the marginalisation of women in society.
You would think that we would have made significant progress in the past 10 years. We are striving for greater representation in politics, and key roles in business. Yes, some progress is being made, but are we really making headway where it counts?
The pandemic has impacted women’s equality by decades, the extra burden being experienced by many in dealing with home education, having to split their time between household and work, means that many women have not been free to focus on their career as many of their male counterparts have. Over this decade we will see the effects of this coming home to roost, unless organisations proactively invest in their female colleagues through mentoring and accelerator programmes. Ensuring the recruitment process and internal promotions amplify women and provide real support and opportunities to progress with their careers.
Gender pay gap reporting has been suspended during the pandemic, many organisations have chosen to publish anyway, but many haven’t. There is still no obligation on smaller and medium-sized businesses to do so as yet.
We all know that “what gets measured gets done”, and unless we keep gender equality and representation for women in the workplace at all levels in our focus then the pace of change simply won’t be quick enough.
A shocking statistic published recently by the World Economic Forum states that, at the current pace of change, gender gaps will not be closed for more than 50 years in Western Europe. That is 2071 for those who need help with the maths. How can we refocus and halve that? Even 2046 sounds like a long time to wait for me. If we look at the rest of the world those figures are even more staggering, with some areas estimating at around 150 years or greater! Of course, the gender gap is only one area, we also need to think intersectionally, and consider disability and ethnicity gaps.
We have travelled a long way to bring more equality, equity and representation to our society and workplace – for sure we have made lots of progress. Is it far enough? My answer is a most resounding “no” – we are not doing well and the statistics are shocking!
If your organisation isn’t actively and deliberately focusing on these representation gaps then you are complacent to the problem, and it is getting worse on your watch.
Put it on your radar, in your board strategy, commit to a goal and measure your progress – be part of the solution!
Joanne Lockwood (she/her) is an inclusion and belonging specialist with SEE Change Happen
Originally published in The Herald Scotland