Gender Equality in the Workforce: How the International Day of the Girl Child Can Inform Change

On December 19, 2011, United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution declaring October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. One way Percipio contributes to this goal is by demonstrating and promoting hiring and employment practices that benefit women. As today’s girls become tomorrow’s female leaders, Percipio wants to do its part to provide equal opportunities for women.

In light of this International Day of recognition and celebration of the female youth, Percipio would like to discuss the multitude of benefits and opportunities which arise from having a gender diverse workforce and maintaining a resolution for equitable hiring and training practices. Research confirms that having such diversity is not only egalitarian but also makes sound business and financial sense.  

According to the 2016 study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, companies that raise the number of women in senior leadership roles and as board members experience an increase in profit margins. A recent Gallup poll concluded that companies whose female employees are less engaged experience 20% fewer profits versus companies where women and men are engaged equally at all levels of the organization. It’s not only employees who are affected, either, it’s also customers. A Source Global Research study found that nine out of every ten U.S. based consulting clients reported that they would like to see more women in consulting. The inclusion of females into the consulting mix inherently brings diversity- of thought, experience, and perception- which translate into a wider range of ideas, solutions, and initiatives.

It is no secret that gender equality across all businesses and industries is not only profitable but ethically imperative. Companies have realized this, resulting in a rapid increase of gender diversity programs. However, the under-representation of women in roles above middle management persists. This is in large part due to organizations not knowing and understanding which measures are most effective in fostering a diverse workplace. Companies will invest time, money, and resources into programs that are not diligently tracked or monitored, resulting in no practical understanding of the results of their investment.  

In 2017, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) conducted a study that analyzed the success of gender diversity programs being implemented in the United States. What the researchers found were what they called “Hidden Gems”, or initiatives that were proven to work and were most highly valued by female employees. They included: 

  • Implementing flexible work programs (such as part-time work, remote work, paid family leave, and unpaid leave) 
  • Eliminating biases in evaluations and promotions
  • Creating networking opportunities specifically for women
  • Involving men as gender diversity champions
  • Offering executive coaching (particularly at career inflection points) 

Of these five “gems”, the one that was found to have the quickest and most long-lasting impact is Involving Men as Gender Diversity Champions. Leadership roles in many companies are still predominately held by men, so if they don’t buy-in, progress will be halted. In tangible terms, men can sponsor women and support their progress toward leadership positions, can be called out as visible role models, can be clearly seen to utilize key policies such as parental leave, and can play an active role in diversity initiatives. Regardless of how men are involved, the message is clear: men’s participation is correlated with better gender diversity performance. 

Gender inequality, both in the workplace and in everyday life, is a systemic problem that will only be resolved through dedicated effort. Men, women, senior leaders, and employees alike must all work in unison to cease the continuance of archaic and ineffective practices that are detrimental to both organizations and individuals. Change is never easy, however nothing worthwhile ever is. It is evident that this type of reform will have a significant impact on the lives of many people. So join us in celebrating this years’ International Day of the Girl as we all work toward better opportunities for all genders.