Business Group Blog

Women at Work: Let's Speed Up the Progress

The World Economic Forum estimates it will take 202 years to close the global gender gap at work. We can’t wait that long; we need to do more to drive change, level the playing field and turn good intentions into better outcomes.

This International Women’s Day let’s not only celebrate women, let’s build diverse, supportive workplace cultures that appeal to women, improve their health and well-being, and propel their success. For large employers, it’s a morale and economic imperative.

What Employers Can Do to Make Meaningful Progress in the U.S. and Abroad

In the Workplace

Employers must actively recruit and hire women to achieve gender parity. PwC recommends aligning recruitment and diversity strategies through practices like recruitment targets, unconscious bias trainings and inclusive language.

Once women are in the door, keep them by cultivating a safe, flexible work culture. Train leaders to respond with empathy and action when employees break the silence on sexual harassment or share a mental health struggle. Empower women to achieve work-life harmony and men to be more involved in unpaid work at home through flexible work arrangements.

Mercer also advises employers to create talent pipelines to advance women in leadership roles and address pay inequities. Until women have equal access to work, promotions and pay, their financial well-being is in jeopardy.

In Benefits

Employers play a significant role in ensuring women have quality health care. In regions with limited access to health information, the workplace is often the best place to raise awareness on gender-specific health issues, and on-site clinics and virtual care can alleviate barriers women experience to engaging in care. 

% of employers have on-site (or near-site) health centers

% identified implementing more virtual care solutions as their top health care initiative in 2019

Source: 2019 NBGH Large Employer Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey

Offering a comprehensive suite of parental benefits – from fertility CoEs to nursing mothers rooms to college savings plans – is another benefits strategy valued by women. Moreover, inclusive, gender-neutral parental leave promotes gender equality, if men take advantage of it. Employers who offer parental leave need to create a culture where all employees use available leave.

In Communities

Beyond on the workplace, large companies can help communities address issues affecting women and girls, and in turn prepare the future workforce, by sharing their expertise and engaging in partnerships. In example, Apple is celebrating International Women’s Day by expanding learning opportunities for young women through its partnership with Girls Who Code, and Unilever is working, in partnership with UN Women, to address gender-based violence through A Global Women’s Safety Framework in Rural Spaces, based on their experience in Assam’s tea workforce.

Now is the time to step up action on gender equality, cultivate safe, flexible work environments and address social determinants affecting women and girls around the globe. The world is watching, and waiting.

 

Member-only Women at Work Resources