Mind the gap: accelerating the path to gender parity

Accelerating the path to gender parity
Millennials believe they will achieve gender parity, but they are cautious. They think it will take at least 20 years before they can say ‘job done’, according to ManpowerGroup research.

It’s a stark statistic, and one which seems particularly poignant today as we mark International Women’s Day 2017. As a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, it presents a prime opportunity for organisations to accelerate the path to gender parity, and commit to taking action now.

Business leaders and politicians have spoken about the importance of gender parity for a long time. But companies are still struggling to shift the needle. The statistics speak for themselves: globally, 54% of women participate in the workforce, compared to 81% of men. Furthermore, the number of women in senior positions remains stubbornly low; with only four countries in the world having equal numbers of male and female legislators, senior officials and managers.

It’s clear that we’re still not making enough progress. And, in the coming years, employers will find themselves increasingly in the spotlight as regulations call for more transparency. Here in the UK, for example, it won’t be long until large employers will be required to publish how large the pay gap is between their male and female employees.

It’s not just a numbers game though. Organisations that are transparent about actions, not just figures, are the ones that will become talent destinations.

It’s time to shift the gender parity needle

At ManpowerGroup, we’re on our own journey towards gender parity. We’ve made good progress in getting women into leadership. And we have nurtured a culture and commitment that will accelerate this. What has made the difference is that our leaders have owned it.

In 1999, Jeff Joerres, then CEO, made a personal commitment to get women onto an all-male board. Within a decade, over a third of the board was female, and remains so today. Today, a third of our top executives and half of our Emerging Leaders are female. We’re making good progress, but we know there is still a way to go, and we’re focused on getting there as soon as we can.

We’re advocating this with our clients too. We’ve been working in partnership with the Australian Defence Force – one of the latest and most complex RPOs in the world – to create an inclusive culture and address unconscious bias.

Through targeted advertising to promote the flexible opportunities available for women in the Australian Defence Force, we’ve helped the number of female applicants increase by more than 85%. We know we have much more to accomplish and that there is no silver bullet. However, through a dedicated, prolonged and multi-channel strategic approach we have reached a broader audience, changed perceptions and achieved diverse results.

Gender parity isn’t just the right thing to do – it makes clear business sense. But it’s not easy and there is no quick fix. If organisations are serious about gender parity and getting more women into leadership roles, they must go beyond programmes and change the culture. It’s time to put words into action. It’s time to #BeBoldForChange.

Building on what leaders told us and on our own commitment and experience, we have identified seven practical steps that will accelerate organisations from circular conversations around awareness to the tipping point that will help them achieve gender parity.

Download our whitepaper 7 Steps to Conscious Inclusion to find out more.