Five years ago, when 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs were formulated, 193 countries committed to bridge the gender gap and empower women globally by 2030. Unfortunately, very little progress was made on that front, when the Covid monster reared its ugly head, regressively impacting gender equality. Here are eight essential facts about gender equality put together by McKinsey and company that everyone should be aware of.
- Bridging the gender gap will boost global economy
A 2015 report from MGI found that women contributed about 37% to global GDP in spite of accounting for 50% of the employable population. The research stated that if the gender gap was tackled in all regions of the globe, it could add $12 trillion a year to the world’s GDP in 2025. In the best-case scenario, that number could go up to $28 trillion, accounting for 26% of GDP.
- There has been marginal gender gap reduction in last 5 years
Despite taking several steps toward reducing gender gap, there has been marginal progress. A McKinsey study aggregated 15 indicators to arrive at a Gender Parity Score that ranged between 0 to 1. According to McKinsey, the global GPS of 0.60 recorded in 2015 increased to just 0.61 in 2019. Bright spots were found in the regions of Middle East and North America where substantial advances were made. The study also found that there was a correlation between gender equality at the societal level and at work.
- Progress made in the last two decades were ridden with drawbacks
In the last 20 years, women gained largely as workers, savers and consumers in advanced economies, but this progress was offset by increasing costs (of healthcare, housing, education, etc.) and growing insecurities that impact women disproportionately.
- Women continue to bear the burden of domestic double shift
Along with disparities at work, women also have to face inequalities in the domestic sphere. Double shift at home is the harsh reality for millions of Chinese women who have to do most of the housework along with office work. The picture in India is even harsher where women perform ten times more unpaid work than men, and the picture remains same even in the developed countries. Studies find that 43% of women who are primary income earners do most of the domestic work as opposed to 12% men.
- Automation poses a major challenge to women
Automation is expected to replace a large share of jobs. McKinsey study finds that both women and men will be equally affected by this challenge. The people who lose their jobs to machine will need to upskill and hunt for new jobs. This will be much easier for men because women have lesser access to digital technology and have to face traditional societal and structural barriers when foraying into new professions. Women might experience a wage-gap or might be driven out of the labor market if they fail to upskill adequately.
- Covid-19 has amplified the challenge for women
McKinsey studies found that women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s jobs in a crisis. As of May 2020, women accounted for 54% of global job losses despite making up just 39% of the workforce. Women have been economically hit hardest by the pandemic, their domestic chores increased and so did domestic abuse in many cases. If proactive steps are not taken to counter these regressive impacts of the pandemic, the global GDP might slide by $1 trillion in comparison to earlier projections if gender equality is achieved.
- Gender and ethnically diverse companies outperform their peers
Gender and ethnic inclusivity are often viewed as a social service, but nothing could be further from the truth. Several experts and studies have proven that having a gender-balanced and diverse workforce makes a company better poised for success. A McKinsey study conducted in May 2020 found that companies with most ethnic, cultural and gender diversity were 36% more likely to beat competitors on profitability.
- Globally all stakeholders must work together to catalyze gender equality advancement
Global leaders from public and private spheres must double down their efforts of driving gender equality if the SDG is to be met by 2030. In the aftermath of the pandemic as nations and businesses start afresh, reducing the gender gap should be a core goal for all stakeholders. While governments can drive this by introducing new policies, enterprises also need to do their bit by imbibing gender neutrality in their corporate culture and ensuring women are not left behind, especially in the corporate career pipeline.