Written by: on December 1, 2023
With businesses’ focus on gender equality influencing changes and efforts on their internal structure and workforce, they can forget the wider, real-world impact.
There are people, places and the planet to consider. Our work with social value partner, InnovateHer, has shown us just how far the benefits of gender equality ripple beyond businesses. Here’s what we’ve learned businesses gain when there’s diversity in leadership positions.
The diversity of perspective that comes from gender equality expands creativity and problem-solving, whether it’s a societal or business challenge. This collaboration fills in gaps of the wider business or social context – that ‘big picture’ thinking that keeps organisations current, resilient and moving with the pace of change. People will work with greater empathy and emotional intelligence towards those they work with and for.
Solutions are also likely to be more effective and robust, with a broader wealth of lived experience fleshing out a nuanced understanding of different demographics and communities. It means products and services are developed by those who identify with the target audience, rather than a degree of speculation, assumption or approximation that can fail certain communities.
With fewer blindspots and more people to feed into engaging a cross-section of society, gender-diverse leadership can avoid or drive us out of common industry pitfalls. Those propositions that don’t quite resonate; those industries that struggle to communicate with certain customers; those real needs that seem neglected and ignored – gender equality can be the key to unlocking issues and helping us continue adapting as the world evolves.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals highlight how gender equality translates into economic value, too. When all genders have influence, the whole workforce is more unified and motivated towards collective outcomes, instead of feeling disillusioned or working towards objectives that deliver limited gains rather than society-wide good. Gender-diverse representation also encourages and inspires other businesses, including in emerging markets, which creates a virtuous cycle that brings in new sources of revenue while nurturing communities with funding and opportunities.
A healthy, resilient economy and society, therefore, depends on equitable leadership – and our new report, ‘Gender Equality x Corporate Sustainability: A British business pulse-check’, sheds light on how that stands.
Encouragingly, it’s an almost even male/female split (52% and 48% respectively) in middle management roles, suggesting the level of influence is becoming more shared. However, it’s not quite reached the top. With an appreciably fewer 36% of women on the senior leadership team and 29% on the board, they’re yet to have a hand in directly shaping business initiatives, progressive policies and necessary adaptations to support all genders today and in the future.
Lisa Crowther, Strategy Director, Don’t be ShyBack to news and views