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Gender Balance in Business Land


Gender Balance in Business

Non-discriminative policies, gender equity and women in leadership are all sensitive topics in today’s business world. Gender inequality issues have been discussed, arguments reiterated, some improvements made, yet there is still perceptible imbalance within this chapter.

Gender balance is an aspect that seeks sorting, especially today when the number of women in the business world grows at an inspirational rate. For example, in a 2013 Forbes article, pinned by Meghan Casserly, in 2007 in the US, there were 7.8 million women-owned businesses, which have generated $1.2 trillion in revenues. The number of women entrepreneurs is continuously rising, and so is the one of women working in corporate mediums.

If the target is equity, then measuring male-to-female ratio becomes a fashionable must for corporations, which brings about the need for developing instruments to describe gender distribution within an organization. No damsel need despair, as there are now solutions for companies that wish to even out gender-related discrepancies and bring their organizations to this century’s reality.

From 20-First, a gender consultancy firm, comes the Global Gender Balance Scorecard, a comprehensive look at the top 100 companies, from 3 key global regions: Europe, Asia and the US. The focus of the study falls on executive boards, where the authors suggest the overview is not as rosy, with companies having a long way to go, until balance is attained.

For comparison, the study suggests a 6-phase process, called the “gender journey”, which a company transits in order to achieve gender balance:

  • Asleep – companies run exclusively by male boards that have not yet stared the “gender journey”;
  • Token – where women can be found in a staff or support function, without any operational role;
  • Starting smart – companies that have a woman, or less than 15% in a central or operational role;
  • Progressing – companies that have progressed passed the single representative of the female sex, and now stand at an 85/15 and 76/24 – male-to-female ratio within their executive boards.
  • Critical mass – the companies that have attained an admirable male-to-female ratio of 75/25.
  • Balanced – the rare examples that have hit the final mark of the “gender journey” having a minimum of 40% women representatives on the Executive Team.

Looking at the results, we find America moving steadily, with 55% of companies having at least 2 women on their Executive Committees, which gives a total 84/16 male-female ratio. This translates into only 195 of 1,206 Executive Committee members. Europe shows an unbalanced 89/11 male-to-female ratio, which means that 94 out of 972 Executive Committee members are women. Meanwhile, Asia lags, with a disarming 96/4 ratio, which effectively means there are 20 women in Executive roles, as compared to the 1,022 men on Executive committees.

Although the results are not ideal, and somewhat unflattering for modern companies, the Gender Balance Scorecard study shows there is hope for improvement. Also, the study proves an interesting point, namely the fact that companies that have managed to attain balance have done so by continuously adapting the corporate culture to today’s reality, which ultimately led to bringing their companies from the feudal ages straight into the 21st century.


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