Workplace gender equality is important not just to achieve justice but because it has been associated with the overall economic performance of countries.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano
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Gender equality in companies has also been linked to increased organizational performance, enhanced organizational reputation, improved national productivity, and greater economic growth.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2020, mentioned that it will take another 20 years to achieve gender equality, according to the current rate of progress. However, according to S&P Global, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts will have to be doubled if humanity wants to avoid losing another 10 years to attain gender equality. This can be explained since historically, economic slowdowns have disproportionately affected women and also caused gender equality matters to escape governmental and corporate agendas.
A recent study by The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reveals the different obstacles that women face every day in the labor market. Horizontal and vertical segregation and the wage gap were found to be the most concerning topics in terms of gender inequality in the workplace. Even though the study found that Latin America and the Caribbean have been progressing, there is still much room for improvement, since inequality in the workplace has been reduced but is still present.
The mentioned document by IDB is useful to deeply understand the current situation of women in workplaces in the region and to identify the main determinants of gender equality in companies. The authors found that 14% of companies in Latin America and the Caribbean are owned by women and 15% of managerial positions are occupied by females. Also, there is a larger percentage of women in junior positions (36%) than in high positions (25%). Out of the surveyed firms, 28% reported having a gender pay gap and out of these, 34% mentioned that inequality was in a range from 11% to 20%.
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The study also mentions the main characteristics that explain why some firms are more oriented towards gender equality than others. Female leadership impacts positively the rest of the women at the workplace. The IDB document reveals that women in higher positions mentor and empower other women in their professional journey. Their results also highlight that workforce training, the use of advanced technologies, and a woman-friendly business culture also help women to move forward in their careers.
Although there has been significant progress in terms of gender equality, some of the actions that have been cited as important by S&P Global to achieve gender equality in the workforce, are: Hiring and promoting more women into senior management positions, investing in women talent early in female’s career, and having more women in leadership. Shareholders also have a role to play, since they can push companies to set quotas that aim for gender equality.
More data is still required in terms of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other identity markers to be able to effectively address the inequalities of intersecting identities that women face. Finally, the IDB mentions that companies that consider gender equality as part of their business strategy, besides contributing to a more inclusive society, can achieve better results in terms of innovation, productivity, and growth.