A Model for Women’s Advancement?




Currently, the S&P 500 Companies hire 44.7% women, but only 11% are top earners. The Digital Revolution has left many apprehensive of the jobs in the future and as a key player in further increasing the gap between men and women at the workplace. Elisabeth Moreno, President of Lenovo France and Speaker at Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2017 said “, Each time you see a change in society, you see opportunities.” Mercer’s latest report titled “Accelerating for Impact: 2018 Gender Inflection Point” is equally hopeful as it attempts to assist organisations achieve gender equality. The report juxtaposes the deterioration in women’s economic standing[1] with the power of the #MeToo movement as the tipping point to initiate global debate on gender parity. The report recognises a rare opportunity for women’s progress that might be the harbinger for tangible alleviation of workplace inequality.

The report highlights the role of “systemic accelerators” as catalysts to the professional advancement of women. The first, and perhaps the most intriguing one navigates the role of data analytics in the jobs of tomorrow, imposing their assistance in acquiring in-depth and accurate insights that bridge gaps between men and women in the long term, rather than providing ephemeral solutions to problems. It can also be used to track progress made.

Technology can also be used to recognize bias. According to a case study in the report, holding positions of leadership and experiencing lateral moves are proved to be stepping stones to upward advancement. The primary has restricted access for women whereas the latter is contingent to a bias in performance assessment. Findings such as these allow for a replacement of a flawed system and create a more level playing field for men and women.

The report goes on to highlight other advantages of using technology that allow organisations to be proactive in the face of eliminated, transformed and new jobs. Statistics and machine learning can be used to quantify similarity between jobs and compare alternate positions within the organisation. Given that over 15% of women (as compared to 5% of men) hold jobs that are at risk because of the digital revolution, organisations can assist their employees to develop the necessary skills for redeployment.

The second systemic accelerator is enabled through insights into health and wealth. By providing gender specific health education and proper parental leave for both mothers and fathers, an organisation can improve labour force participation of women,  as is noted through data on maternity leave provisions in the OECD countries. Organisations can also provide digital solutions to health education and thereby support their employees.

Wealth also proves to keep women from participating or excelling at the workplace. The research suggests that over 64% women are financially stressed as compared to 55% and only 60% of women, as compared to 67% of men, have invested in safe retirement. Women are also reported to be less confident about their financial capabilities, regardless of their actual knowledge - disallowing women to improve their financial wellness.

Biases such as those in retirement savings systems continue to alienate women. This exclusion can only be addressed by creating pay equity processes as well as constantly diagnosing and organising short term and long term issues pertaining to retirement, investment strategies etc that are communicated in a gender specific manner.

The last systemic accelerator focuses on speeding up the pace of change already implemented by workplaces to counter gender inequity. More men, as compared to the current participation of 38%, are invited to engage in diversity and inclusion efforts. Organisations must also make efforts to understand the difference in perception on issues between men and women to tailor make policies that incorporate the needs of all.

Thus an organization can leverage technology to not only acquire insights but also drive behaviours they need in pursuit of desired outcomes. What makes women in executive positions so important? Put simply, in the words of Clara Gaymard, Executive President of the Women’s Forum for Economy & Society – “Diversity matters for performance .”


[1] Global Gender Gap Report – World Economic Forum