I read an interesting article from the AESC about gender diversity and was somewhat shocked and taken aback. I’ve tried to put a lot in my own words but it was a stunning article. It reported that the United Nations has now set 5 top goals for 2030 for sustainable development around the world, these are, no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, and gender equality. The article stated its shock that in 2019, why are we still talking about this, the reason is because it’s still an issue and not a lot is being done to change it, lots of talk, with little real action.

The article mentioned that when we in the UK talk about gender equality, we mean it in relation to jobs, senior leadership and women on the board and in the C-Suite. But in the developing world its about woman who have no education, married at 9 years old, who have no rights, if the UN is making it a priority then we should be doing more in the UK to change the issue here.

In 2013 McKinsey & Company conducted a survey of global executives asking, “Even with equal skills and qualifications, women have difficulty reaching top management positions.”, 93% of the female executives agreed with the statement, as contrasted with only 58% of the male executives. Men and women see the issue differently, but we need to have the same view and agree what needs to be done. 

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report identified unconscious bias as the top barrier to hiring and promoting women, men & women see this differently. The report also included lack of work-life balance, lack of role models, lack of qualified incoming talent, and women’s confidence and aspirations.

Regarding work-life balance, you might ask why is that a woman’s issue rather than a man’s issue, but in many cultures around the world it doesn’t matter if you’re an executive, bringing up your children is still viewed as the woman’s responsibility, as is the education of the children and even taking care of your husband’s parents. So, when you look at why women are not in the workforce, if you have to do all of this and still do your job, there is no balance. And in many cultures, there is no solution because they don’t have great childcare, and they don’t have the infrastructure to help. This is changing with the next generation—where men and women are more motivated to share responsibilities for family and are both seeking a balance."


The lack of qualified incoming talent, identified in the World Economic Forum survey, doesn’t mean that women aren’t properly educated or well-educated, but often they aren’t picking the right degrees. Organizations are often looking for people with STEM backgrounds (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and women are getting social services degrees, so women candidates need to be well-educated with the right expertise. That is all beginning to change.

Regarding the lack of role models, organizations often struggle with gender diversity in industries where women are underrepresented. According to the World Economic Forum report, “Across all industries, companies reported that they found women harder to recruit. The reported ease (or in this case, difficulty) of recruiting women is directly proportional to the existing gender composition of the industry.”

With multinationals spread across different geographies & cultures (including macho cultures) locally they don’t understand that it’s a business issue. However, the multinational has a global priority that demands gender diversity, so they are in that local market finding the best women and hiring them. When the local firms finally start to get it, no woman is interested. Why would anyone want to come in and be the only woman, when she can work for a multinational that cares about gender diversity, where she can be part of a really diverse and inclusive culture?”

CALL TO ACTION  -  Lets do our part

Credited to Karen Greenbaum, President & CEO, AESC