I had the opportunity to be part of a global campaign discussing gender parity with a number of colleagues from EY.
The cohort, which comprised an even number of men and women, was split into pairs to discuss topics regarding gender equality in the workplace. As conversations took place, everyone agreed on two things; progress towards gender equality has been made, but we still have a long way to go to reach gender parity. We live in a world where roughly 79 percent of countries have legislation that impedes women’s economic participation, and more than 1.3 billion women don’t have an account with a formal financial institution.
The World Economic Forum, in its 2015 Global Gender Gap Report, estimated that it will take roughly 117 years to achieve gender parity in the workplace. That means companies and governments won’t be equally led by men and women until 2132. I was extremely shocked by study’s findings. I will no longer be on this planet when equality is achieved. If I had children, they wouldn't experience parity in the workplace either, but my grandchildren however may.
As discussions progressed I started to think about how this figure could be reduced. I quickly realised one thing; half the population in this world also have a moral responsibility to do more. In my mind, men in this world aren't doing enough and must do more; the fathers, husbands, sons and brothers need to proactively join the discussion and engage with women, their employers and wider society to become advocates for gender parity and feminism. In order to achieve equality for women, men need to be part of the solution. It requires an innovative, inclusive approach that mobilizes people of every gender identity and expression as advocates, and acknowledges the ways that we all benefit from this equality. This isn’t to say that men are the only solution, but by working together I believe that a more equal world will benefit men, women, boys, and girls alike.
Isn't feminism just for women? Not at all. I often found that men are afraid of the word feminism but could never really understand why. To me, feminism is about equal rights and opportunities for men and women, about everyone having the same choices politically, economically and socially, without facing discrimination based on gender. Equality is not a threat, it is an opportunity. Personally to me, equality would mean a world where my future sons or daughters would have an equal chance at life and that their gender doesn't determine the opportunities available, how well they're paid or how far they can go.
My commitment in the workplace is to challenge leaders to ensure that gender issues are actively taken into consideration, while I, personally, continue to challenge myself to change the way I think about equality.