Gender equality, progress for all | Arnaud Peral and María Carolina Melo

30 Sep 2016

 Gender equality means recognizing that men and women are different, in terms of needs and peculiarities. Photo: UNDP Colombia

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon affirmed that "equality for women is progress for all". Furthermore, it is an accelerator to achieve all the goals set in 2030 Agenda, from reducing poverty to sustainable economic growth. However, its position in the corporate level has been slow, because it is perceived as an ethereal matter and altruistic character that does not generate clear economic dividends for companies.

When we talk about equality between men and women, we refer to things as basic as equal pay for equal work; equitable opportunities for job advancement (which recognize the diverse needs of women and men); the balance between work and personal life, and equal representation in decision-making positions.

These are currently multiple tools to implement equality within organizations and women have shown, over and over, that they have the same capabilities as men to work successfully on any task. Moreover, companies that are betting on the active participation of women at all levels have reported significant internal and external benefits.

So, why do so many gender gaps persist? Why do we still have, in many countries, wage differences beyond 20 percent? And why do female unemployment is two to three times higher than among men, even in nations where more women than men graduate in secondary and higher education? It is time to start talking, with evidence, that gender equality is good business.

Breaking gender stereotypes boosts performance of a company

Gender equality means recognizing that men and women are different in terms of needs and peculiarities, and that should not alter the access and enjoyment of opportunities equitably. So, identifying and promoting the potential that each person has to offer is an alternative in which everyone wins: the employees maximize their experience, knowledge and skills; and the company has a team that feels powerful and encouraged to do their job.

In a study by Roy Adler, Pepperdine University, proved that the implementation of measures to promote gender equality, allows human talent to improve skills and abilities by 58 percent.

Satisfied teamwork

Maintaining a good work environment is a challenge for any company and requires constant effort. Therefore, the implementation of measures to promote the balance between work and family, which highlights the advantages of the presence of both genders in household affairs, and where women are not penalized for wanting to have children and a successful career are key to success.

Measures such as flexible working and teleworking can help stimulate men and women satisfaction with their work and the quality of time spent at home and the care of their children, and certainly affect positively the mood and want to carry out their work. It is shown that these measures can contribute to improving the working environment, reduce turnover and encourage retention of the best talent by 69 percent.

Improving Corporate Image

Betting on gender equality not only brings internal benefits. Externally, companies are beginning to be perceived as socially responsible, related to global challenges and contributing to the eradication of discrimination and inequality.

Additionally, it enhances its reputation as a good employer, its chances of recruiting more competitive personnel, and enhances its image as a good workplace, which primarily respects for different and equal opportunities.

Women in managerial positions, are as efficient as men

Gender equality in the labor market is determined by two essential aspects: ensure the inclusion and permanence of women in the labor market, (meaning not only that there are job offers, but positions suit the current needs of women of working age); and parity at all levels, especially directors, in which participation is low.

If you're not already convinced, Adler stated in a study of the 500 largest companies in the world, according to Fortune magazine, the 25 companies that mostly promoted women to senior positions went from getting 18 to 69 percent more earnings in 20 years.

In sum, it is clear that gender equality is good business, for companies, and for society as a whole.

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