“She belongs…” How would you complete this sentence? To celebrate International Women’s Day, EY is using the hashtag #SheBelongs. Here’s three things that came to mind for me:
She belongs in the classroom
My daughter will start secondary school this September, and I’m continually impressed by her ambition and that of her friends. They are inspiring, in the forthright way they challenge why and how things are done, in their willingness to work hard and in their openness to a radically different future.
Globally, more girls are in primary education than there were twenty years ago – though ongoing campaigns like that of education activist Malala Yousafzai highlight the work that remains to be done.
The next generation of girls already believe they belong in education. What we need to do is create a business environment where they can thrive and reach their full potential. But we’re not there yet.
She belongs in space
Do you remember the photo from the control room that went viral when India successfully sent a satellite into orbit around Mars in 2014 (and on a budget less than that of the movie The Martian)? Women staff in colorful saris with flowers in their hair celebrated alongside their male colleagues.
It was an image that expanded many people’s ideas about what people working on space missions look like and fed into a great Twitter campaign – #ThisIsWhatAScientistLooksLike.
There are ongoing initiatives to get more girls into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and – of equal importance – to develop careers in STEM. This matters because of the importance of these fields to the future, as disruptive technology and innovation continue to reshape the way we live, work and play.
She belongs everywhere
We are living through a Transformative Age, where disruption and uncertainty are features of our working environment. Organizations need the best talent – different genders, generations, ethnicities, backgrounds and so on – to deliver breakthrough thinking and new ways of working. There is overwhelming evidence that diverse teams produce the best business performance.
We need a push to sort out issues like unconscious bias that perpetuates inequality, prevent artificial intelligence magnifying current biases, and halt a growing global digital divide that could widen the gap between have and have-nots.
This can't be left to chance. And the best way to create an inclusive environment is to measure and report on it. People act on what is visible. We have all the tools we need: analytics and metrics to measure the pipeline of women and other groups at each level of organizations, to monitor pay gaps and to check unconscious bias in recruitment and promotion. Now we need to use them; only then will everyone belong.