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Gender Equality should be central on all days of the year, not only on International Women’s Day


Gender Equality should be central on all days of the year, not only on International Women’s Day

Gabi Matic - Business Express

By Gabi Matic, Cofounder & Director, Metta

International Women’s Day is an important day and platform to remind ourselves of how desperately unequal women remain to men globally. Looking at my inbox or social media feed around IWD, one could almost glimpse an alternative reality. Whilst promoting inclusion and gender diversity seems to be front and centre for every business worldwide, the reality is that few companies are implementing fair recruitment practices, committing to equal pay and advocating on a global scale. 

Not much of that talk seems to translate to real change in the other 364 days of the year. I’m not saying this is true for everyone, but it infuriates me that it seems to be the case for most. While some data shows gradual improvement, others indicate we might be moving backwards. 

Whilst I think IWD is important, I also believe that now, more than ever, it is also a painful reminder of how dire the situation is – and this is not even looking at women in all their intersectionalities. We need to do better at including perspectives from women of all racial, ethical, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. The various ways certain identities come into play in parallel create a unique set of barriers that still aren’t discussed enough.

Girls and women are systematically tracked away from science and math throughout their education, limiting their access, preparation and opportunities to enter these fields as adults. Data indicates that by the time students reach college, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM majors — for instance, only around 21% of engineering majors are women. Only around 19% of computer and information science majors are women. According to UN Women, one of the key challenges in achieving gender equality by 2030 is an alarming lack of financing, with a staggering USD 360 billion annual deficit in spending on gender equality measures.

In a world facing multiple crises that put immense pressure on communities, achieving gender equality is more vital than ever. Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights across all aspects of life is the only way to secure prosperous and just economies and a healthy planet for future generations.  

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Diversity beyond compliance

Businesses must work hard to critically examine their recruiting and promotion processes and update them to be more inclusive and bias-free. I also believe flexible work arrangements are imperative for accommodating different lifestyles and needs. We must move away from hiring ‘more diverse’ staff into only very junior roles in what essentially amounts to a tick-the-box exercise. Instead, we must ensure diversity in leadership roles with fair and equal pay and among teams with decision-making power. Making a concentrated effort is the only way to demonstrate a genuine commitment to changing the status quo and ensuring words turn to action.

The key is embracing more inclusive working practices rather than just doing the bare minimum. Industry stakeholders must accept that the only way to find viable solutions to some of the most pressing challenges society faces is to make sure as many different voices as possible are part of the conversation. This includes creating a company and industry culture that celebrates differences and makes real tangible commitments to pay and support talent of all backgrounds fairly while realising that this is also better for the bottom line.

 

Gabi Matic is co-founder and director of Metta, the transformative innovation agency with the mission to improve the sustainability and accessibility of innovation. 

 

 

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