While great progress has been made towards greater equality in the workplace, the course of the past two years has shown that we still have a long way to go in some organizations. Last month, we ushered in Women’s Equality Day and since then I’ve been reflecting on the unprecedented challenges women have come up against recently.
At the same time, I’ve also been thinking about the immense power we can wield if we use data to create that change, driving more balance, increased productivity, and deeper equality. By implementing inclusive business practices with data, and opening doors to others, businesses can be powerful platforms for social change and further equality for all.
In fact, companies are facing the pressure from employees to redefine what equality means – especially as the Covid-19 pandemic has fueled a regressive effect on gender equality. According to McKinsey, women’s jobs are almost two times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs as women considered downshifting or even abandoning their careers as a result of increased domestic responsibilities.
While this number is sobering, gender parity is still not recovering, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022. It will take another 132 years to close the global gender gap. Closer to home, South Asia performed the lowest among all the eight regions covered in the report with only 62.3% of the gender gap closed in 2022.
Whilst there are multiple reminders that gender equality is an essential component for business leaders to consider when establishing a harmonious and equal workforce, change does not happen overnight. For better workplaces and a more equitable society, all business leaders have a responsibility to empower women to further their careers and data plays a big role here. In fact, our global C-Suite research found that some 76% of business executives believe that data can help organisations to have better business conversations.
Re-imagining Hiring Systems and Ways of Working
It’s no secret that workplaces with greater diversity tend to be more innovative and successful. As such, taking action to ensure equal access begins with re-imagining our hiring systems.
Last month, we published our latest equality goal of reaching 40% women and non-binary employees by 2026. This multi-year commitment builds on our ESG representation goals, and allows us to think not only about how we’ll continue to drive gender diversity today among our employees around the world.
Embedding a diverse recruiting team, leaning into people analytics solutions to tackle human capital challenges with trends surfaced from data, and implementing a more equitable referral process are just some examples of how companies can open up opportunities for women. Introducing company-wide bias training and inclusive hiring practices for managers and recruiters can help reduce bias throughout the hiring process.
It’s important that businesses learn from the pandemic to create workplaces that inspire balance and equality. In an all-digital, work-from-anywhere world, businesses have an even greater responsibility to create an equal and inclusive environment that translates both in-office and virtually. Crucially, data can help minimise the influence of personal opinions or egos in a business conversation to drive equality.
Accelerating Representation with Experience, Skills and Data
Representation does not hinge on hiring alone – companies must focus on experience. To be inclusive means everyone must feel supported, valued, and empowered to succeed.
Workforce strategies must ensure that women are better equipped to take advantage of the opportunities that the digital economy offers. This includes creating intentional career pathways and providing the skilling resources for women to get into and succeed, wherever they are in their journey.
To help make gender stereotypes a thing of the past and build a workplace that looks like society, women need to be represented at every level, particularly on corporate boards and C-Suite positions. As a mentor within and outside of Salesforce, I believe that supporting women at all stages of their careers, investing in leadership development and mentorship programs and inclusive promotions processes, will bring more women to the decision-making table and inspire more to rise from the ranks.
Taking Action Together
Companies cannot be alone in this work — together, we must collaborate with governments, our partners, customers, ecosystems, our industry, and our communities to drive equality for everyone.
Businesses are a reflection of the wider societies they operate within and must work to not only acknowledge gender progressive campaigns, initiatives and policies, but to apply them in their workplaces. Business leaders must also set targets to hold themselves accountable to actions and model the ideal culture by ensuring a diverse and inclusive boardroom.
Creating a culture of equality isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing. It empowers us to innovate, build deeper connections with our customers, and ultimately become a better unit. And the time for action is now.
Anjali Joneja Amar is the Vice President and Country Manager, India, Tableau at Salesforce. The views expressed are the author’s own.
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