The Time is Now and the Responsibility is Ours: 3 Imperatives to Achieve Gender Parity
Rohini Anand, PhD
Rohini Anand, PhD
SVP, Corporate Responsibility &
Global Chief Diversity Officer


“Gender equality doesn’t require trade-offs; it only has benefits. And the benefits accrue to everyone, not just women and girls. Societies benefit and, as even men are beginning to understand, economies benefit, too.”

-Jim Yong Kim

President, World Bank



Around the world, women are increasing their contributions to social, economic, cultural and political development, but unfortunately, the progress towards gender parity significantly lags behind.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 38 years have been added to their global gender parity prediction—that is, in 2014 the WEF predicted perfect gender parity would take place in 2095, and this year (2015) the prediction is pushed back to take place in 2133. The pace of progress is unacceptable and the time for change is now.  This International Women’s Day, let’s explore how we can contribute to fostering female equality world-wide.

  1. Women Must be Given Equal Rights to Men

Women must be given the same opportunities in education and forces of production. Globally, women outnumber men in graduation rates but they fail to keep pace with their equal male counterparts by 15-25% in their economic participation and earn about 75% of the salary that men make. A 2013 report by the WEF states, “The most important determinant of a country’s competitiveness is its human talent.” Perhaps the most definitive evidence that gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge came in a 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report that found $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.  Given that women make up 50.8% of the U.S. population, if gender parity were achieved in the work force, GDP would increase by 12% in developed countries over the next two decades.  Greater equality leads to a higher GDP.

  1. Workplaces must Encourage & Support Female Leadership

Women lack the prominence in leadership positions in the workplace.  Only 5% of Fortune’s 500 CEO’s are women and only 18.5% of senior management roles are held by women. The lack of female role models in the upper echelons of leadership can be traced back to the lack of influence, strategy and development that is provided to women coming up through the ranks.  According to an Ernst & Young survey, 68% of women believe that they need to do a better job of advocating for themselves. Organizations must also do a better job of illuminating the path to future leadership roles and ensure that processes and policies do not put women at a disadvantage.  That is, companies must match an employee’s skills, experience and goals with future opportunities for leadership and career development and ensure that managers do not let unconscious bias impact people decisions.  More female leadership at top levels will result in better all-around performance at every level of an organization.

  1. Society must rid Itself of Bias and Discrimination towards the Female

Women in today’s society are still seen as the “caretakers;” a position in which they care for the family and take on what are considered “feminine” household roles.  Though societal values are changing, this natural bias towards gender roles is still very prevalent.  In order to advance female development and gender parity, both men and women must be willing to step away from these preconceived biases. To help advance gender parity, organizations need to advocate for affordable childcare, early childhood education, and parental leave (for men and women), so that men and women have the ability to balance both work and family life.  Better work-life opportunities are the start to eliminating these biases.

When the world is able to make these changes, gender parity is foreseeable and better for all. Lorna Donatone, CEO of Sodexo Schools Worldwide and President of Sodexo North America, stated in her IWD blog last year, Every successful change always starts with two things: the need for change and a group of people willing to make it happen.” There is a need for change; let’s be the leaders to ignite this positive change!

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Rohini Anand, Ph.D. is Senior Vice President Corporate Responsibility and Global Chief Diversity Officer for Sodexo. She is responsible for the strategic direction, implementation and alignment of Sodexo’s integrated global diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as Sodexo’s sustainable development, corporate social responsibility and wellness strategies. Dr. Anand is considered a pioneer and subject matter expert on organizational change and diversity and inclusion, she has authored several articles and has been published in numerous trade journals. 

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