Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

4 industry leaders on how we can recover momentum towards closing the gender gap

Global Gender Gap report: A participant displays a symbol of women on her forehead during a street event marking International Women's Day, to demand the upholding of women's rights and to draw attention to the worsening of social and economic conditions for women and minorities, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Porto, Portugal, March 8, 2021.

It will now take 132 years to close the gender gap worldwide. Image: REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

Pooja Chhabria
Digital Editor, World Economic Forum
Gulipairi Maimaiti
Programming and Communications Specialist, Centre for the New Economy and Society, World Economic Forum
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Gender Inequality

  • The World Economic Forum's latest Global Gender Gap Report reveals the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple economic shocks on achieving progress.
  • It will now take 132 years to close the gender gap worldwide.
  • Four industry leaders present their outlook on recovering momentum while highlighting how their organisation accelerates gender parity outcomes.

Since the pandemic began, headlines worldwide have depicted its disproportionate impact on women. It pushed more women out of jobs, excluded them from quality healthcare and education, pushed them to perform more childcare, and intensified gender inequalities, among others. Then came the multiple shocks in the global economy.

Now, the latest estimates from the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report reveal that gender parity is not recovering. Globally, the gender gap has closed by 68.1%, a slight improvement since 2021, but still significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels that suggested the gap would close within 100 years.

It will now take 132 years to close the gender gap worldwide.

Global Gender Gap 2022 Image: World Economic Forum
Global Gender Gap 2022 Image: World Economic Forum

The report benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

The gender gap in Political Empowerment remains the largest of the four gaps tracked, with only 22% closed to date. The gender gap in Economic Participation and Opportunity comes next, with only 60.3% of the gap completed.

The gender gaps in Educational Attainment fell from 95.2% to 94.4% while Health and Survival saw a marginal increase from 95.7% to 95.8.

"This is not the moment to roll back on gender parity – it is time to accelerate change, for all of us," says Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director at the Forum. So what can be done?

Have you read?

We asked four industry leaders to present their outlook on recovering momentum while highlighting how their organisation accelerates gender parity outcomes. Here's what they said:

'Women’s economic empowerment benefits everyone'

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

“Big bet” strategies to accelerate gender parity outcomes start with national and international recognition that women’s economic empowerment benefits everyone. Gender gaps across the world are large and women face many legal and cultural barriers and do not have equal access to education, health, finance, infrastructure, assets, and technology.

The attention to gender has never been more urgent. The increase in conflict-related fragility across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic, and emerging trends such as climate change and digitalization are exacerbating existing gender gaps. Fostering women’s participation in the economy and in decision-making will go a long way in stabilizing economies and building more inclusive and resilient societies.

National strategies on gender equality with concrete, time-bound, and measurable actions could be set to bring stakeholders together. The tone of top leadership will matter for their success. While policy priorities may vary across countries, countries should systematically assess and remove legal and other barriers that prevent girls and women from fully participating in the economy.

As examples of concrete action, economies everywhere would benefit from flexible leave policies, access to quality care services, removing barriers to female entrepreneurship, and addressing gender imbalances in STEM education. Gender-responsive budgeting is proving to be a useful tool to steer national budget toward promoting gender equality.

“Big bet” strategies to accelerate gender parity outcomes start with national and international recognition that women’s economic empowerment benefits everyone.

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

At the IMF, we understand that gender equality is a win-win for all. In other words, reducing gender gaps will help economies grow faster, reduce income inequality, and foster great economic and financial resilience of societies. In recognition, we are launching our very first Gender Mainstreaming Strategy in July 2022.

What is our vision? It is to integrate gender into the IMF’s core activities—surveillance, lending, and capacity development—in accordance with its mandate. This means enabling IMF staff to systematically assess the macroeconomic consequences of gender gaps where they are macro-critical, evaluate the gender-differentiated impact of shocks and macroeconomic and financial policies, and provide granular and tailored macroeconomic and financial policy advice to our 190 member countries.

Our gender strategy has four key pillars: first, to empower our country teams with gender-disaggregated data and modeling tools to conduct rigorous policy analysis; second, to create an internal governance framework to ensure that we make steady progress in implementing our vision; third, to strengthen our collaboration with external partners to benefit from knowledge sharing and peer learning, and support our members’ gender inclusion goals in a concerted and complementary manner; and fourth, to utilize our resources on gender efficiently to realize scale economies in our efforts and impact.

'It starts with leaders aligning their teams and establishing boundaries from the top down'

Valérie Beaulieu, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, the Adecco Group

With women representing the majority of workers opting for hybrid work, leaders need to commit to evaluating employees on how well they meet clearly defined objectives, without being biased by the hours they spend in the office. Additionally, governments should accelerate regulatory action on wage discrimination— asking companies to prove that they are paying men and women equally for work of equal value—while investing in the care economy to enable women to return to work, and prioritizing women for upskilling and reskilling programs.

Global Gender Gap Report 2022 Image: World Economic Forum
Global Gender Gap Report 2022 Image: World Economic Forum

As part of our organization’s partnership with Paradigm 4 Parity, a business coalition focused on eliminating the gender gap in corporate leadership, the Adecco Group has made a commitment to achieve gender parity in leadership levels by 2030.

To support our efforts to reach these goals we run the following activities globally as part of our Inclusive Leadership pillar:

Our female talent programme – sponsorship and acceleration of female talent to Global Leadership roles. Leveraging Ezra for coaching as part of a 12-month development programme. Gender KPI – aligned gender equality target to the Short-Term Incentive Plan of our Executive Leaders. Pay parity review – The monitoring and subsequent action plans to close identified gender pay equity gaps – both globally and locally. Leverage our Paradigm for Parity partnership.

'Gender parity is not a problem of innovation, it’s a problem of execution'

Bob Sternfels, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company

More gender-diverse leadership teams are strongly connected with positive business performance, making gender diversity a significant – but underused – lever for business growth. Yet, from over a dozen years of research, we know that gender parity is not a problem of innovation, it’s a problem of execution. Consistency and dedication are key.

Companies that we see making significant gains in women’s representation are more likely to be prioritizing certain best practices. These include steps to improve diverse representation through de-biasing of hiring and performance review processes, active tracking of progress and measures to hold senior leaders accountable.

To create lasting change, representation must also be accompanied by steps to improve inclusion, which could include mentoring and sponsorship programs, parental support and childcare benefits, or anti-racism and proactive allyship training. In the post-COVID world, it’s critical that companies also take steps to create a sustainable work culture and invest in the retention of top performers, especially women.

To create lasting change, representation must also be accompanied by steps to improve inclusion.

Bob Sternfels, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company

At McKinsey, we’re working across all these levels to improve our own gender representation at every level, with a public goal of reaching gender parity across our global Firm by 2026. (We’re already close at 48% -- but know it’s important to go all the way!) We’re also focused on creating a culture of inclusion and caring, through consistent training around anti-bias, inclusive leadership and proactive allyship. We’re also proud to help support our clients to reach their own diversity and inclusion goals, both through our consulting, but also our leadership training and pro bono work.

'Use of data to assess progress and build standards for global best practices'

Peter T. Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg

The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted women and people of color in the workplace. These setbacks have global impacts — across companies, sectors and regions — and will require equally wide-ranging solutions to recover the momentum lost toward achieving gender equity.

There are two initiatives I believe can help close the gender gap faster and help us make up for the lost time. Firstly, creating stronger partnerships across industries and between government and the private sector. Secondly, initiatives to help develop more inclusive leaders within organizations. Neither of these strategies will succeed without effective measurement and the use of data to assess progress and build standards for global best practices.


At Bloomberg, we are using our position as a global and multifaceted organization that touches government, media, technology and business to create data tools that track progress towards gender parity, and develop partnerships to help create real change.

The Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) is now in its seventh year, and provides objective, aggregate data on areas like policies and products geared towards women. We are already seeing the impact of using GEI data alongside our partnerships. For example, we are working with the UK Government to inform gender pay gap reporting and to support their measurement of gender equality in the workplace. This is one small piece of the tremendous global efforts that must be made to close the gender gap and achieve greater equity.


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