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International Women's Day: Choose to Challenge

View profile for Louise Pisano
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International Womens Day: Choose to Challenge

Choose to Challenge is the theme for the 2021 International Women’s Day today. This is a day that celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements and raises awareness about women’s equality and the ongoing need for accelerated gender parity.

Gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether economies and societies thrive. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 indicates that it will still take more than a lifetime to make equality for women in the workplace a functioning reality. The fact that "none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children”, is a sobering finding of the report, which reveals that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years, on its current trajectory.

Progressive employers understand why gender equality in the workplace is key. Not only do diversity and inclusion benefit women, but equality also benefits the companies themselves. 

A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that gender diversity leads to more productive companies. Diversity adds value to the company and increases innovation, ideas, and creativity. Diverse teams can also connect better with clients and customers. 

More satisfied employees are more productive employees, who are more likely to stay at the company for longer and recommend it to others as a great place to work. This creates a virtuous cycle that is only beneficial for all parties involved.

The government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, launched in 2016 to encourage UK-listed companies to appoint more senior women, has just released figures showing that FTSE 100, 250 and 350 firms all reached the target of women making up 33% of Boards by the end of 2020. This was a voluntary, business-led approach, without quotas. Now the challenge is to get to 50%. 

Birkett Long exceeded the target of women making up 33% of the board as it currently has 40%. Birkett Long also has women at all levels in every department, including 16 out of 25 team leaders and 50% of its Partners being women. 

A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So, let’s all Choose to Challenge on this International Women’s Day.