Global Gender Gap Report: No Investment No Return

The Global Gender Gap Report 2011

Over the last six years, while 85% of countries are improving their gender equality ratios, for the rest of the world the situation is declining, most notably in several African and South American countries. The sixth annual World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2011 shows a slight decline over the last year in gender equality rankings for New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom this year, while gains are made in Brazil, Ethiopia, Qatar, Tanzania and Turkey.

In the preface the authors state in no uncertain terms that "governments play an important role in creating the right policy framework for improving women’s education and economic participation. However, it is also the imperative of companies to create ecosystems where the best talent, both male and female, can flourish." This is the essence of public private partnership: the government on the one hand follows developments and legislates to ensure they are registered in our social code.

Companies however are the partners who have to bring these social codes into practice. This is not simply a glass ceilings discussion: it is a discussion about how all people in society can participate with dignity and be respected. Uneducated people can be educated, and this brings about change. Some change that needs to be made is attitudinal. We need to go through the phases of stating the unthinkable, moving into the impossible and ending with the inevitable. Homosexual employees, or transsexual employees, will not change. They do not have to change, the attitude toward them does, and this needs to be anchored in public law. Other change is just practical. In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell noted how the orchestral world in the US went from a 97% male bastion to 50% women and men. Their commitment to having the best players, and their realization that their bias was that men are the best players, had them institute blind auditions. The musicians auditions behind a screen, and the number of women employees in orchestra's rose.

Our challenge with gender balance is to look at what kind of measures, and what combination of measures, need to be made. In partnership and collaboration, governments, the private sector and the public sector need to discover where the attitudes need to change, where the blinds need to be opened and where policy needs to be implemented to make change happen. We are all part of one society and we need to be working together.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2011

Lin McDevitt-Pugh

Lin McDevitt-Pugh, owner of NetSHEila, is a management consultant with a passion for dignity and respect for all people. To contact her, write to admin@netsheila.com.

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