Why equity-based solutions are important for women in the workplace

This image shows a woman working with two computer screens, illustrating the importance of equity-based solutions for women at work
Equity-based solutions can benefit women in the workplace.
Image: Unsplash/ThisisEngineering RAEng
  • Women’s wellbeing in the workplace requires an equity-driven mindset to address differences.
  • Systematic changes are needed to ensure the social and economic value of equity-based solutions.
  • Adopting equity-based solutions is key for employers to keep their competitive female employees from leaving.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, the level of women’s representation in leadership roles is only in proximity to gender parity in selected industries, such as non-governmental and membership organizations (47%), education (46%) and personal services and wellbeing (45%). On average, more women have been hired into leadership in industries where women are already highly represented.

Women in leadership roles are only one parameter to reflect the urgency and necessity to improve the recognition of women in the workplace. Workplace equality may partially address this issue, but it is far from enough. Equity is different from equality at work as it focuses on the input end, instead of the output end. Equality emphasises that every employee gets treated the same, while equity leads to results that lean towards the different needs of everyone.

What's the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Gender Parity Accelerator model for public private collaboration.

These accelerators have been convened in twelve countries across three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico and Panama in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Japan and Kazakhstan in Asia.

All Country Accelerators, along with Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a wider ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, that facilitates exchange of insights and experiences through the Forum’s platform.

In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and making recruitment, retention and promotion practices more gender inclusive.

If you are a business in one of the Gender Parity Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Gender Parity Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.

Employers today understand that women are now likely to ‘vote with their feet.’ Women choose to leave employers that are less committed to improving their well-being. Women also prefer companies or organizations with more flexibility in their modes of working, with hybrid and remote-work options.

Such actions to get more women recognised will shape the dynamics of hiring in the future. Employers are no longer in the position to make the call. Instead, they will be urged to adopt equity-based solutions in daily management or to collect data and conduct research to identify the needs of different communities.

System change is also on the horizon. More and more organizations are now establishing with the purpose of empowering women with opportunities to grow their specific skill sets. Women are particularly underrepresented in STEM fields and this situation only exacerbates under traditional patterns of skilling. With an equity-lensed view towards such issues, we can unlock the potential of men and women and generate more economic and social value from these fields.

Many women experience bias at work not only because of their gender, but also their race, sexual orientation, disability and other aspects of their identity. As a result, these women experience multi-layered microaggression at work, which makes their professional advancement more difficult. Equity-based solutions in the workshop are not only addressing the inequalities of women, but also the inequalities of minority groups in the professional setting.

For International Women’s Day 2023, the Forum asked four Young Global Leaders how to implement equity-based solutions that support women's career development in the workplace. Here are their suggestions:

'Women are evaluated for their true work competency'

Mitsuru Claire Chino, Audit & Supervisory Board Member, ITOCHU Corporation

Mitsuru Claire Chino, Audit & Supervisory Board Member, ITOCHU Corporation

ITOCHU Corporation is drastically changing the workstyle and mindset of all employees. One is encouraged to come into the office early and discouraged from working late. And, if you come in early, you receive morning overtime at 150% of the evening overtime, as well as free breakfast. Of course, you can leave as early as 3 p.m. This departure from the traditional Japanese salarymen workstyle enables everybody (but especially working mothers) to customise their schedule to balance their respective work and life, as well as to be efficiency-minded. Women are evaluated for their true work competency, rather than the hours they have (or have not) spent in the office."

'Empowering women to break the silicon ceiling'

Paul Rivera, Co-Founder & CEO, Kalibrr

Paul Rivera, Co-Founder & CEO, Kalibrr

My favourite equity-based solution that I've seen not just in the Philippines, but globally, is FTW, which is a non-profit organization that provides free data science and technology training for women. I love that it is empowering women to break the silicon ceiling by creating world-class training and connecting them to career-changing opportunities in technology that allow them to become data scientists, analysts and data engineers. These jobs are some of the most in-demand globally and FTW is filling a critical need in training women in the skills needed to join some of the most innovative companies around the world.

'An equity lens sheds light on social differences that need to be addressed'

Mia Perdomo, Co-Founder & CEO, Aequales

Mia Perdomo, Co-Founder & CEO, Aequales

We believe an equity lens sheds light on social differences that need to be addressed in order to level the playing field. The best way to do this is to gather data on the different social groups and identities that exist in our organization and their particular needs, instead of assuming our needs are everyone else's. A great example of this is PAR Ranking, a tech tool created by Aequales that measures organizations' gender and diversity policies and practices in Latin America, allowing organizations to take action on what is invisible and, at the same time, enhancing the reputation of those that are breaking the mould.

'Reinforcing self-identity'

Xiaoxuan Zhu, Head, Professor, Division of Research and Coordination, China Science and Technology Exchange Center, Ministry of Science and Technology of P.R.C.

Xiaoxuan Zhu, Head, Professor, Division of Research and Coordination, China Science and Technology Exchange Center, Ministry of Science and Technology of P.R.C.

"As a complex unit of social specialization, women have to connect their inner impetus and extrinsic factors subtly and unify the goals of their family and society to a great extent, so as to achieve the feedback and the goals of their family and careers. For the brave career women, perhaps only by reinforcing self-identity can they enjoy inner balance and relieve themselves peacefully."

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