9 considerations on gender equality

Trump March

Image thanks to Getty Images

A couple of weeks ago Kate and I headed to the fabulous Bloomberg building at Moorgate for a breakfast event we had been invited to. We advertise on Bloomberg channels so it was handy to meet some people there having not had any interaction with them directly since moving into the team.

The breakfast had two speakers, each with very strong background in gender equality and interested in the impact of it; Angela Sun – Global Head of Strategy and Corporate Development, Bloomberg, architect of Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index and Tina Fordham – MD, Chief Global Political Analyst, Citi, member of the United Nations High-Level Panel of Women’s Economic Empowerment.

(I never write opinion pieces on big topics. I’ve included a few of my own opinions but that isn’t the true aim of this post. Saying that, this event was the same week as the Women’s March AND Donald Trump signed the Anti-Abortion Executive Order – not only did he do that, he did it in a room surrounded by men. I’m in total disbelief).

Personally I don’t always agree with some of the agendas around equality. I’m not a fan of “women only” groups, I think if we’re going to try and make a difference in society and in workplaces, the education and responsibility around equality and rights should be for, and lie with, both men and women. Having said that, the rest of this post doesn’t aim to express a particular opinion on gender equality. This is a list of comments, ideas and thoughts that came from the session which you could consider when discussing and/or thinking about gender in the world today. (“We” in this article refers to people in the world in general).

  • Women as global growth generators. Rather than seeing gender equality as a diversity requirement, we should be seeing it as a contribution to economic growth.
  • Many countries are investing in education for women, yet often, culturally, the country doesn’t support them in a working life – this isn’t good for growth, it’s a wasted investment.
  • Are quotas the way forward? They’re getting more women into politics but is this really the way we should be approaching this? We should be supporting women rather than making it a mandatory quota.
  • What about equalised parental leave for men and women? Could this change the risk associated with “women who are of child bearing age” ? (Note the “” – awful phrase).
  • Are there too many efforts focussing on women? Why do they exist? What are they aiming to do? How do we measure their success? Are we doing them for ourselves? (this kind of supports my opinion earlier around education of both men & women).
  • The Women’s March happened just days before this event, what is the impact of this? Global unity?
  • With regard to companies and their policies – peer pressure between companies, across industries is key as a catalyst for change. Programmes like the Gender Equality Index are aiding this globally.
  • The social responsibility of a company lies with investors, it is they who are looking at company data. This leads shareholders to care, the board cares and this is when a company really has to take action.
  • And what about us in advertising & communications? We have a responsibility to ensure that the message we’re putting out to market is pertinent. You search for “women eating” on image websites and it’s full of very slim women, smiling, eating salads. Let’s be realistic here, no-one ever smiles when they eat salad. What are we telling the next generation of women and men? Are we aiding a future of equality or inadvertently stopping it from progressing?

This event was insightful; I was impressed by both speakers. Some interesting points were made and I think the first bullet around global growth is particularly relevant. Not only does this mean women will get the same opportunities as men across the world, but it can only be positive for global growth in general.

What do you think?

 

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2 Comments

  1. Elaine Schwartz
    February 9, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    Hey Sarah! I just heard Angela Sun speak at the Makers conference in Los Angelos, and she was super insightful! I love your point around educating men & women around equality. The most powerful thing about the Womens march in my opinion is it wasn’t JUST women it was men, children, teenagers of all races, ethnicity and religion. Let’s talk more about this offline, I think there is a lot we can do at IBM around equality and education!

    • February 9, 2017 / 6:00 pm

      Sounds amazing Elaine – we can chat when you’re in London?!

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