Sunday, 12 July 2020
Global Summit of Women 2018 - The Gender Gap
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Global Summit of Women 2018 - The Gender Gap

by Alison McGuigan, Manager - Office & Administration, Project Coordinator - Women in STEM.

As Project Coordinator for the Women in STEM program, I was proud to recently attend the Global Summit of Women held in Sydney during April. The Conference brought together some of the world’s leaders and role models in gender diversity. I am proud to say that Australia has some of the most renowned figures in society today leading the way for workplace change in gender diversity, but we still have a long way to go to reach gender parity. 

While the conference had a focus on gender diversity as a whole, a key theme visited throughout the conference was women on boards and women in technical roles within the workplace. 

The rate in which technology and key changes are happening in both society and the workplace, is growing exponentially, with the exception of gender diversity. From the time the telephone was invented to the mobile, to the internet and then the iPhone, society has worked to reduce the time taken to create and innovate, but why is the equality of gender diversity taking longer?

At the opening session exploring Megatrends: Globalism v populism, John Lydon, Managing Partner for McKinsey Australian and New Zealand raised key findings from their research into diversity, that at the current rate, we can expect to see a shift in change closer to 2025. But to reach gender parity we are still 4 generations away, something that I will not see in my lifetime.

Irene Natividad, President, GlobeWomen Research and Education Institute voiced her findings from research undertaken into “Women Board Directors in the Fortune Global 200”. France currently leads the way with 43.4% of Board members being women. France has implemented changes through quotas and legislation to ensure that businesses adopt a minimum of 40:60 of female to male board composition. The implications of the French legislation hold boards accountable, so that any board who do not meet the minimum requirements of 40% female Directors, lose all individual Director salaries and all decisions made are void. Of the top 4 companies with greatest women to men ratio globally, France retains 3 of the top 4 spots.

Korea current has a long way to go, with no Board currently holding any female positions and in terms of regions, Asia-Pacific has the furthest to grow.

While the Australian Stock Exchange has the required targets for companies to be gender diverse, this is not a mandatory setting and only takes an “if not, why not” approach to enable businesses to explain noncompliance. This also only applies to companies listing on the stock exchange. While society increasingly demands companies act in the social interest of consumers, it does not prevent companies from being nondiverse. 

24 economies currently have quotas and legislation to pave a way for gender parity and with the implementation of these throughout Europe we can see that a quota is a starting pointing to ensure companies are meeting the much-needed diversity that women bring to a Board and the workplace through skills often associated with our gender.

Quotas set the footprint for objectives and how to measure these objectives. The implementation of the legislation and quotas opens the doorway for conversation to highlight the importance of diversity and to drive aspirations to hold people accountable and explain their actions.

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