Gender parity in education is a battle well fought and won by most nations around the world, but gaps do remain in the labour market, and business leadership needs to be strengthened. In a global economy where women make up nearly half the potential human capital, the success of being competitive lies in the best use of this talented group.
As debates continue about the widening or closing of the gender gap, the 10th Global Gender Gap Report stated it could take over 100 years to achieve economic gender parity. And its report for 2015 and 2016 reveals that the progress towards this parity is slowing. Add to this the world economy transitioning through the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. A shakeup of the labour market, further automation, and job displacements are the fallouts in both male- and female-dominated professions. Yet the heartening aspect is a likely growth in demand in ‘soft’ arenas, the caregiver, for instance, where machines are yet to tread.
Rather than brood over depressing data, it is time to sound the clarion call for action. For that, girls and women need to arm themselves with skills and training pertinent to the jobs of the future, especially in the field of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
The challenge is huge the world over, where women have had to overcome societal obstacles to rise to the top. So what can catapult women to the top at the workplace?
- Define the leadership path: identify opportunities for progress; set clear targets; and make the role models visible.
- Change company culture, and fast: this calls for flexibility and uniform work-life balance.
- Build environments that are supportive: remove bias through a top-down approach.
Thus, while women fast forward to a better future, they have to be pragmatic; encourage more startups; promote entrepreneurship; be open to learning from global role models; and, on reaching the top, employ more women.