Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is not only a social mater but also critical for the sustainability of our economic system. Two are the reasons that based this argument. The first is the inevitable chain of wealth concentration that it generates. An homogeneous workplace leads to wage polarization that leads to inequality and a consequent underconsumption crisis. If the money is concentrated on few hands, there will be less people to buy and sustain the market.
Exhibit 1 – the chain of wealth concentration
The second one is the limitation of workforce. With population growth and its increased needs for goods and services, the number of white Caucasian men, the predominant profile on the workforce since the early 1900, seems not enough to keep this wheel rolling.
In this context, to solve the gender inequality issue is key to brake this chain and have both social and economic impact, since women accounts for half of the world’s working age population. According to the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, “The power of parity”, empowering women on the workforce can add $12 trillion to global growth.
To understand how we can quickly and efficiently reach this number, this report will:
1. Prepare an overview of gender inequality in 5 major countries (Japan, Korea, China, Brazil, India and United States).
2. Discuss the role of companies and leadership in this context.
3. Analyze good practices already happening on this field.
4. Recommend initiatives that companies can implement to build a more diverse workforce.
Although gender inequality can be considered a social problem, companies cannot wriggle out of this matter if they are looking for sustainable growth. A more diverse place gives more people purchasing power and guarantees a healthy market and a stabled consumption of goods and services.
Exhibit 2 – The virtuous circle of the diverse workplace
However, to start this virtuous cycle rolling, companies should be ware on what kind of opportunity they are reserving for women. it is not enough to offer female professionals any kind of job. What we need is to create equal growth opportunities to reach fair male / female ratios of occupation and wages in all company’s levels.
Controversial Initiatives regarding Women
In 2014, Facebook announced that it would offer egg freezing — both for female staff and the spouses of its employees – as part of its pay packet. A couple of months later, Apple also started offering the sames benefit. That originated a trend on the Silicon Valley and today, at least a dozen tech companies have jumped on board, with Google, Uber and Yahoo taking part of this movement.
Since then, a number of articles and HR professional have debated over this policy, questioning if it moved in the right direction. Does this benefit empower women or put them into an uncomfortable choice between being a mother or follow their career?
Other critics find that is not a coincidence that this policy became so popular among tech companies, which have the conviction that there is an algorithm solution for every dilemma in the world. As the new Yorker article said:
“the difficulties that an American woman continues to face in her efforts to reconcile having a career with being a mother are more than faulty code to be debugged. Rather, they are vast and systemic: the limited availability of subsidized care for preschool children, the resistance of corporate culture to flexible or reduced hours for the parents of young children, the lack of federally mandated, paid family leave. The United States keeps the dubious company of Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and Liberia in its failure to guarantee paid maternity leave; and while the fortunate employees of Apple and Facebook enjoy relatively generous family-leave packages—Apple offers expectant mothers four weeks of paid leave before the birth, and upward of fourteen weeks afterward—these are the exception rather than the standard.”
What becomes clear is that although some companies are running to surf on the new trend and offer the most fashionable benefit to guarantee hiring, when we talk about female career growth the package of benefits have to be full. Not only should a company offer the possibility of delaying maternity, but also provide conditions for those who wants to balance career and family life.