With the likes of the ‘MeToo’ and ‘HeForShe’ movements so much more than flashes in the pan, and tapping in to a deep well of yearning for change, to what extent is the corporate sector heeding the clarion call and helping to fulfil this promise of a new dawn that places women on an equal footing with men?
The answer is ‘barely at all’.
Now is the time for the sympathy, the polite mutterings that this is an issue which certainly needs addressing, and well-meaning but impotent statements of intent, to translate into concrete actions that deliver measurable gender parity and empowerment, for this is nothing less than an existential crisis.
When business leaders determine to make the necessary operational changes to match their own strategic rhetoric and the wider political discourse, this will serve to create an unrelenting and unstoppable momentum for change, and a realistic opportunity to achieve the United Nations’ Global Goal of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
It is an appalling indictment of the global economy and its leading figures that it persists in accepting a status quo where half the participants are effectively excluded from inputting into its quality and direction; that the means by which we generate prosperity, innovate, develop, and govern, demands one enter the fray with daggers drawn.
Where the free market is found wanting, we must step in and help create a new reality that sees gender parity as the unquestioned norm.
Organisations must set clear goals to be achieved within finite time frames, such as increasing the number of women in the boardroom and in management roles, equal pay for men and women in the same role, and the introduction of more collaborative working practices to break the closed and often destructive masculine silo mentality.
As for those men in a position to empower women, yet who continue to deny them opportunity, they need to reconcile this resistance in the workplace with their conduct away from the workplace; or are their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters subject to a similar patriarchy at home?
Assuming not, then why the paternalistic double standard at work?
What are these vested interests afraid of when the business case is so compelling?
To date the disconnect has been profound and the fact that this irrational and unjust state of affairs stubbornly endures is baffling. What are these vested interests afraid of when the business case is so compelling?
In prioritising, implementing and embedding such a change within the culture of an organization, C-suites can lay claim to having overseen a truly transformational process, leading to discernible and measurable impacts, such as a sharpening of key strategic goals, more innovative and adaptable mindsets, improved professional standards, increased productivity, enhanced stakeholder sentiment and stronger revenues.
Proactively introducing change to give women equal billing to men, rather than simply claiming to have created the conditions for such change in the hope that it will organically take hold, is the single most important thing a business can invest in in 2019 to positively impact its fortunes. Moreover, it is imperative that men are included in this journey, for they have nothing to fear. This profound change is not about invalidating them or denying their contributions; it is as much about forging a new masculinity, as it is embedding a more feminine approach to business.
The new corporate paradigm we need – marked by empathy, diversity, inclusion, authenticity, multitasking, collaboration, knowledge transfer, sustainable relationships and solutions – can only be realised by letting feminine in.