ILO: Women in Business and Management - The business case for change

ILO: Women in Business and Management – The business case for change

In May 2019, the ILO released their latest report on women in business and management, showcasing that gender diversity improves business outcomes, while also positively affecting a company’s ability to attract talents.

The report, carried our annually, surveys almost 13,000 enterprises from 70 countries in order to gain an overview of how various companies and countries are approaching the gender agenda and to what degree of success.

A key conclusion is that the majority (57%) of respondents believe that gender diversity initiatives improves business outcomes, and this belief is matched by real economic data. Almost three-quarters of those companies that tracked gender diversity in their management reported profit increases of between 5 and 20%, with the majority seeing increases of between 10 and 15%.

“Companies should look at gender balance as a bottom line issue, not just a human resource issue.” Deborah France-Massin, Director of the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities

This economic impact has been outlined in research by various parties, including McKinsey & Co. and WEF, but a unique insight gained from this report, particularly, is the importance of gender diversity when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Almost 57% said it was easier to attract and retain talent, when working openly D&I. More than 54% said they saw improvements in creativity, innovation and openness and a similar proportion said effective gender inclusivity enhanced their company’s reputation, while almost 37% felt it enabled them to more effectively gauge customer sentiment.

However, there are still significant leaps to be made.

Gender balance in senior management is defined as 40-60% of either gender. However almost 60% of enterprises failed to reach 30% women represented., which is also known to be the point at which the positive ripple effects of inclusion start to be seen.

More than 78% of enterprises who responded had male CEO’s, and those with female CEO’s were more likely to be small enterprises.

Furthermore, for almost half of the responding enterprises, women make up less than a third of entry-level management recruits. The problem lies not just in promotion, but in attraction too.

To counteract this, the ILO has drawn up a list of factors that most negatively affect balanced leadership, primarily: inclusivity and work-life balance policies need to be improved, the ‘glass wall’ – the fact that women managers tend to be in HR or administration roles, which are viewed as being less strategic and thereby impeding their chances of promotion to management and the ‘leaky pipeline’.

It is only by turning vocal commitment into concrete action that these factors can be eliminated. Through focussed employer branding programs, such as Lead the Future, and development programs, such as the Advanced Leadership Program, companies can harness the potential of female talents and strengthen the talent pipeline throughout their organisation.

Read more about steps for breaking the cycle:–en/index.html

WEF: Global Gender Gap Report 2018

WEF: Global Gender Gap Report 2018

Last month, the World Economic Forum released its 13th Global Gender Gap Report, providing comprehensive quantitative and qualitative analysis of the Global Gender Gap Index, a tool created by the World Economic Forum in 2006 to identify and track gender imbalance over time and across countries.

The report measures 169 countries across 4 thematic divisions in order to rank them in terms of gender parity, which is measured on a scale of 0 (disparity) to 1 (parity).

Key findings from 2018:

In summary, the gender gap has reduced slightly in 2018, but the declining representation of women in politics and stagnation in the proportion of women in the workplace mean that any improvements are minimal. ‘Economic Opportunity’ was the only area that narrowed the gender gap, largely due to the reduction of the pay gap (51%) and increase in the number of women in leadership roles (34%).

The data suggests that women are participating less in the workforce, perhaps due to automation disproportionately replacing jobs traditionally carried out by women, while traditionally male STEM jobs are increasing. Another possible option is that the lack of infrastructure for childcare and eldercare prevents women re-entering the workforce.

This year, the WEF drew attention to the glaring disparity in the field of AI, where women represent only 22% of the workforce, a gap 3 x larger than other industry talent pipelines. Proactive measures are vital in these male-dominated industries that will dominate the future of work. Furthermore, slimming the gender gap will also have positive economic ramifications for businesses in the long term, given that diverse companies perform better.

The economies that will succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be those that are best able to harness all their available talent. Proactive measures that support gender parity and social inclusion and address historical imbalances are therefore essential for the health of the global economy as well as for the good of society as a whole

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.


IMF: Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion

IMF: Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion

In October 2018, the IMF published a paper examining ’Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion: New Mechanisms, New Evidence’. It takes a fresh look at how female labour force participation contributes to economic growth, while drawing attention to the fact that despite progress made, the pace of change has been uneven and large gaps remain.

The economic cost of this imbalance is highlighted by Christine Lagarde and Jonathan D. Ostry in a recent article, where they point out that no advanced or middle-income economy has reduced the gender gap below 7 percentage points. This imbalance of labour force participation impedes productivity and lessens growth. Their conclusion is that the removal of gender barriers should be urgent, given the obvious economic advantages (closing the gender gap could increase GDP by an average of 35 percent) and the fact that gender diversity in the work increases the variety of skills and perspectives.

Lagarde and Ostry observe these 4 key benefits from narrowing gender gaps:

  • A bigger boost to growth
  • Higher productivity
  • Higher male income
  • A bigger payoff to reducing gender barriers along development paths

This paper draws attention to the compelling evidence for gender equality, when the costs of the unlevel playing field are so detrimental, and the advantages so substantial.


Read more:

‘Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion: Even Greater than You Thought’
By Christine Lagarde and Jonathan D. Ostry

Link to blog


‘Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion: New Mechanisms, New Evidence’, IMF, J. D. Ostry, J. Alvarez, R. Espinoza, and C. Papageorgiou

Link to report

INNOBOOSTER: Bridging the Talent Gap in Denmark

McKinsey & Co. and Innovation Fund launched their joint report: ‘Bridging the Talent Gap in Denmark’ and hosted an ‘Innotalk’ event on the 1st of October to answer the question: ‘How do we strengthen the gender balance?’ with EU Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager. It was an evening of engaging debate, presentation of the data and analysis.

Speaking at the event were three CEOs from our Diversity Council Alliance: Kim Baroudy, CEO & Senior Partner at McKinsey & Co. Denmark, Marianne Dahl Steensen, CEO at Microsoft Denmark and Lars Rasmussen, CEO at Coloplast. Together they championed the case for increased women in leadership and a more inclusive culture, especially in the STEM fields.

Later in the week at our CEO Committee, Lisbeth Møller, Associate at McKinsey & Co. introduced the report to our DC CEO Committee in more depth, explaining the process of analysing gender diversity in Denmark, through the data of 50,000 individuals via LinkedIn and collaboration with various universities and institutions. They concluded that reaching parity in STEM educations would go a long way towards closing the talent gap, while also providing a 6 billion DKK boost to the Danish economy. By pinpointing 4 critical moments in a woman’s career trajectory -inspiring, attracting, retaining and advanced – the report has found 7 tools that can strengthen the talent pipeline:

  1. Provide female role models
  2. Speak to women
  3. Commit and make your own business case
  4. Reduce bias in recruitment processes
  5. Promote and inclusive work culture
  6. Advance female talent through mentorship and sponsorship
  7. Take the structural debate – inspired by peer experience

The Diversity Council has already gone some way to address these particular initiatives, through our CEO and HR meetings (3 and 7), #LeadtheFuture campaign (1), our Advanced Leadership Program (2 and 6) and our adaptive learning tools (4 and 5).

Read the full report here.