A glance at the annual meeting at Davos confirms: The World Economic Forum is still largely male dominated. Research shows that investing in women is good for business and gender diversity is a key element for success of companies. However, less than 3% of the CEOs of the world’s largest 500 companies are women and at the world’s premier economic gathering in 2011, men still outnumber women by a ratio of more than five to one. Who knows if this is not the main reason why this year’s meeting again does not pay much attention to poverty and climate change?!
All the same, the World Economic Forum has proven awareness of gender inequality and made efforts to increase the visibility of women at Davos 2011 by instituting a gender quota. Responding to a suggestion from the Global Gender Parity Group, in April 2010 the forum asked its 100 major business members to include at least one woman in its delegation to Davos. This helped to increase the overall percentage of women at the annual meeting from 9 percent in 2001 to 16 percent this year. However, 16% shows that there is still a long way to go.
The World Economic Forum also produces an index ranking 134 countries on their success in eliminating inequality. Moreover, the Gender Equality Project, a Swiss foundation working in partnership with the forum, provides a new standardized method for multinational companies to measure gender equality in the workplace – including global certification and an assessment methodology.
“To stay competitive and maintain a leadership position in the 21st Century, it is critical that organizations engage in gender equality practices,” said Nicole Schwab, co-founder of The Gender Equality Project. “While companies have been talking about gender equality for years, there has been little action. The Project’s goal is to provide companies with a standardized tool for implementing change.”
The methodology is designed to provide a clear picture of a company’s progress on gender equality as measured in terms of equal pay for equivalent work, recruitment and promotion, training and mentoring, work-life balance, and the company culture. Some variables include the level of education, level of responsibility, and number of years with the company and the percentage time worked (full-time, part-time).
Key metrics highlighted in the assessment methodology include the gender composition at different levels of the organization, the gender pay gap, and employees’ satisfaction with their company’s performance in offering men and women equal opportunities. Key drivers include successful policies and practices that enable a company to reach positive outcomes in closing the gender gap.
See related article on this blog: The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index