The data is clear: an equal world is a better world for all of us. When equality grows, communities are healthier, businesses are stronger, economies rise – and the world is a better place for everyone.
But today’s approaches to gender equality are still largely ineffective. The latest World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report now estimates a staggering 257 years to close the gap on economic participation for women – compared to 202 years in last year’s report. Unfortunately, this is no surprise.
Bias, often in the form of false narratives about women, continues to be ingrained in our workplaces, our policies and our talent discussions about women and how to fill senior roles. Despite all evidence to the contrary, too many people in power still believe myths like women lack ambition, lack confidence, must carry more of the load at home, are opting out of big roles and that there aren’t enough women in the pipeline to increase representation in the C-suite. Leaders at the top of our organisations – men and women – along with HR managers, outside consultants and even self-proclaimed gender-equality advocates continue to reinforce these outdated and disproven notions.
Not only are these narratives just plain wrong, they cause us to focus on fixing the women vs. fixing the systems and norms that perpetuate the global gender gap. We continue pigeonhole gender equality as a women’s issue.
What if we acknowledged that gender inequality needs to be fixed, but the women don’t need to be?
Most corporate leaders and decision-makers believe they are already addressing gender equality. But bias – both conscious or and unconscious – gets in the way. And the result is a blind spot. As leaders and decision-makers, we only see part of the picture instead of the total landscape. This limits the way we act, react, believe and behave. It limits our effectiveness.
In the case of gender equality, we need to check our blind spots so we can see the total picture. That’s the only way we’ll stop going backwards and start making forward progress.
Let’s take workplace policies, as one example. Many companies have taken steps to improve maternity leave. And yet, the workplace gender gap continues to grow. Why? Because maternity leave is a career inflection point that uniquely affects women.
What if workplaces developed policies and programmes that support women as mothers and men as fathers, with sufficient paid maternity and paternity leave? As more men experience the process of taking leave – securing manager approval, creating coverage plans and navigating re-entry after several weeks away – company processes will improve for everyone, and more managers will be more empathetic to the needs of expectant parents.
Source & Copyright: weforum.org/ Images World Eco. Forum & Pexels