Category: Women, inspirational women, Capita, Business Services, celebrating women, business women, career for women, STEM for women, leading women, successful women, Opportunities for women, Senior Women, Influential women, Ethnic minority women, International Women’s Day 2022
In the first of our series this week to celebrate International Women's Day, we hear from Chantal Free, Chief Executive Officer of Capita Portfolio and the Executive Sponsor of Capita’s Gender Equality Network. Chantal explains why gender equality is not only vital, but a win/win for business.
The World Economic Forum estimates that it will take 135.6 years to reach worldwide gender equality. Whilst progress has been made, with the 2021 average distance completed to parity being 68%, the gap is still too large and current trajectory is far too long.
International Women’s Day is an important day for us to stop and consider why this is the case and how we take action to accelerate this trajectory.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #breakthebias. A theme that I wholeheartedly support and more importantly, helps us think about what we need to consider in our everyday actions. Gender biases have long been prevalent in our society. We are almost preconditioned to believe unfounded and old fashioned stereotypes of gender inequality. You’ll have often heard, ‘women can’t have it all’, ‘men should be the breadwinner’ and ‘women are too emotional to be leaders’. These stereotypes have become an unfortunate reality which have restricted women from rising within their careers, and equally have created a dynamic which reinforces the concept that men have to continue to agree with these biases - even if it’s not what they ‘believe.’
Currently, women make up only 6% of CEOs of FTSE 100 companies and 35% of civic service permanent secretaries. Furthermore, only 35% of board members for the largest publicly listed companies are women. How is this still the case?
Recent research shows that 49% of women are concerned about finding a job that will allow them to care for their families. 41% of women provide care for children, grandchildren, and others, vs 25% of men. And 85% of women are responsible for household activities everyday, compared to 49% men. In the last year, one in three women has contemplated exiting the workforce or abandoning their career—a significant increase from one in four in early 2020.
Societally, we have an inherent bias to believe that women should be the ‘carers’ – “they are better at it” – and therefore we’ve unintentionally created a dynamic where men must be the breadwinners, they’re allowed to step away from the family and they must be strong leaders. It’s important to consider, perhaps some men don’t want to live this stereotype, but feel the pressure that they have to. Pew Research Center found that 72% of men and 71% of women feel that men should be the financial providers.
Many women do want more in their careers but can’t break through – a recent Pearson study found that 65% of women believe bias and discrimination are holding women back from finding work.
Then there’s the business benefit, and the facts speak for themselves. According to McKinsey, the world’s GDP is $12 trillion lower today than it would be if we advanced towards gender equality. According to the World Bank, gender inequality is costing us $23,620 per person in lost earnings, and $160 trillion in human capital loss.
Gender equality is a win/win all round. It’s 2022, let’s just break the bias.
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