In 2015 I enrolled to Hult International Business School to do my 1 year MBA. It is an international course, so there are all types of people from various cultures from all across the globe you will work with. We were randomly put in teams and had to work it out. One of these teams thought it would be funny to write Bossy on the whiteboard behind me with an arrow pointing at me, as is shown in below picture:
This picture was shown throughout the cohort group. I didn't mind, as I know that I am a boss, but I didn't appreciate the negative connotation it came with, so I followed the picture of me with following picture:
Women have come a long way to finding their place in society as it is today, and still until now we haven't quite taken the worth we deserve. Here are just a few facts about gender inequality created by the UN:
Globally, 750 million women and girls were married before the age of 18 and at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries have undergone FGM.
The rates of girls between 15-19 who are subjected to FGM (female genital mutilation) in the 30 countries where the practice is concentrated have dropped from 1 in 2 girls in 2000 to 1 in 3 girls by 2017.
In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working; in 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights; and 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence.
One in five women and girls, including 19 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner within the last 12 months. Yet, 49 countries have no laws that specifically protect women from such violence.
While women have made important inroads into political office across the world, their representation in national parliaments at 23.7 % is still far from parity.
In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 % of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber.
Only 52 per cent of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
Globally, women are just 13 % of agricultural land holders.
Women in Northern Africa hold less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector. The proportion of women in paid employment outside the agriculture sector has increased from 35 per cent in 1990 to 41 % in 2015.
More than 100 countries have taken action to track budget allocations for gender equality.
In Southern Asia, a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood has dropped by over 40 % since 2000.
The pandemic is not making things easier. Following recently released infographic shows the difficulties that women are facing during the COVID crisis.
The Sustainable Development Goals created by the UN have brought goals related to the issue of gender inequality. And it is great to have all the objectives formalized together in one location.
The question remains how we can sustainably realize true societal transformation.
Following article argues how societal transformation needs to happen on three levels: the individual, businesses and governmental.
What you can do for her
"Women don't need to find a voice. They have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use it. And people need to be encouraged to listen.", said Meghan Markle in an interview responding to the statement, that she has helped so many women, 'find' their voice.
Malala, Emma Watson, Gloria Allred, Meghan Markle, Oprah and Tarana Burke and many more leaders have used their voice and paved the path in the women's rights movements.
This movement towards gender equality, cannot only be walked by the women alone. With Obama's "This is what a Feminist looks like." statement at the United State of Women Summit, the Big Bang Theory cast (including four men) accepting a pay cut to emphasize on equal pay, John Legend attending the Women's March. The Grassroots Movement on Feminism is finding its way to the new notifications on people's phones. What else needs to happen for these notifications to move to our minds?
True societal transformation happens through individual transformation. Individual transformation happens through a transformation of thoughts. With every cell in our body we need to understand that women and men are equal. With this true understanding we will impact our circle of influence: our friends, our children, our parents, the friends of our parents, the friends of our children. Anyone we talk to will be impacted by our internal transformation.
This transformation is not easy and it is very possible. Whatever inspires you to find your passion, will lead you to your purpose. This purpose will lighten you inner light, which will make you see the world filled with love. No hatred towards another gender, no hatred towards another race. Filling this love in your own life will
If this transformation has fully developed within you, and you can, as Obama did, look in the mirror and truly believe in gender equality, you will automatically spread this view to your surrounding. This will carry cross-generational within your community.
Only if you fully accept and love yourself, if you are able to stand by yourself, will you be able to have the full compassion for the opposite gender. And in this sphere, there is no space for discrimination or hatred, which cause any type of inequality.
What your business can do for her
The most common action known to the business world in order to balance the gender inequality in treatment and representation is related to integrating quotas in company targets. Forbes has summarized the business issues as follows:
Equal Representation on leadership teams, corporate boards, etc.
Equal access to training and career-building opportunities
Company benefits should reflect the needs of all employees, as well as their families
Forbes confirms, that "Research shows that inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, and that teams with less diversity are more likely to make poor choices for their companies. [..] What's more, companies with low rates of both gender and racial diversity are 29% more likely to make less money. In other words, it's likely harmful to a company's bottom line if its leadership teams don't have diversity."
There is no question, that gender equality will benefit the company.
The Genereconomy.org foundation, a think tank, has summarized the benefits and disadvantages of quotas as follows:
Why Quotas might not work:
Illegal or perceived as unjust
Reduced employee engagement
Reduced support for diversity initiatives
No trickle down
Failure to address underlying discrimination
Why Quotas could work:
Fears not realized
No pipeline problem
Substantial Positive effects
A useful shock to the system
There is no black and white, step by step recipe to creating a fully gender inclusive and diverse environment in your business environment. What is important is the day to day actions of all employees within the company showing? Employees actions and communications give an understanding of their beliefs. Until the belief system of employees are not transformed to internalizing gender equality in every cell of their body, a company cannot be considered fully gender equal, inclusive and diverse.
People make the company.
What your country can do for her
"A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not." - Unknown Author.
This quote is valid for the business environment, as well for the country.
For women it is the same. Maya Angelou said "Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women".
Whether we know it or not, leaders, including governmental leaders, lead by example. They impact their circle of influence. And politicians will impact their circle of influence.
In many countries the understanding of gender inequality varies geographically (rural vs urban) or generational is more extreme in more traditional regions, which can be divided geographically, such as rural areas vs urban areas.
A country can go through such progressive gender equal transformation, when the progressive thinking is implemented in the various aspects of a country.
Starting with the education system: Countries need to provide basic education opportunities to both genders equally. And education system does not only mean, what we teach children, but also what we teach the parents on how they raise their children. Worldwide, 30 year old men have spent 10 years in school, on average. How many years have women of the same age spent in school? 9 Years. We are improving, but we are not there yet, and we can do better. Again - only if politicians believe in the benefits of the impact of a transformed education system towards society, towards the economy (towards the GDP, if that's your priority), we will see this transformation.
Continuing with the job market: including policies to provide equal pay, equal treatment, representation and training access is important within companies, and even more so is the support governments have the capacity to provide to create more female entrepreneurs. The importance of social enterprises to change the world for the better sustainably has been explained in many articles before. An interesting statistic shows, that there are regions, "like Argentina, Iceland, Israel, Lebanon, and Russia, women social entrepreneurs outnumber their male counterparts" (OECD Library). In other regions it is the other way around, and governments have the capacity here to support, subsidize and incentivize social enterprises in general, and make sure women are given the resources, empowerment and tools to change the world, if they want to.
"A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not." - Unknown Author.
If you are not a feminist, please read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We should all be feminists."
Her definition of a Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.
If you truly believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, the transformation in your community around you and in your circle of influence (be it your family, friends, your business or your country) will happen automatically.
You only need to make sure you are live your belief fully.