Although progress towards gender equality may be slow and not without shortages, experts say some businesses have singled out their own internal issues and are trying hard to turn things around.
A report by PwC warned last week that the progress of women in the workplace in achieving gender equality is expected to decline until 2017 due to the pandemic. It warned that progress must be twice as rapid if the pandemic’s damage to women’s jobs in the workplace is to be undone by 2030 compared to the previous decade.
If we look at some of the largest companies in the United States, non-profit Catalyst found that women hold 30 CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, representing only 6% of the positions at that level. Meanwhile, only 48 of the 668 largest listed companies in Europe have a female CEO, according to the EU-backed non-profit European Women on Boards. This again represents only 6% of the total analytical companies.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, OilGasJobz Make It spoke to investment experts to find out which European companies have made the most progress in terms of gender diversity.
Amy Wilson, a service provider at investment manager Federated Hermes, highlighted the British liquor manufacturer Diageo as one example.
The alcoholic beverage industry was “traditionally not a huge popularity for gender diversity,” Wilson told OilGasJobz by telephone. However, she pointed out that the board now consists of 60% women, following a joint effort in this area.
It is also making encouraging progress among the board, she said, while women make up 37% of the executive committee. Diageo has set a target of having women in half of all leadership roles by 2030 and aims to own 45% of the leadership roles by people of ethnically diverse backgrounds by 2030.
“So, I think it’s a very good example of a business setting ambitious targets, thinking a little bit more about diversity than gender diversity and making progress,” Wilson said.
Diageo was the best in terms of the proportion of women on its board in the final report of the Hampton Alexander Review, published in February.
The five-year review, supported by the UK Government, was an initiative to increase the representation of women in leadership positions and on boards of directors of FTSE 350 companies. As of this year’s report, there are no longer all male drivers in the FTSE 350.
Oil chief Rio Tinto was another listed company in a traditionally male-dominated sector emphasizing Wilson as advancing in gender diversity.
She said Federated Hermes spoke to Rio Tinto in 2017 about the lack of women on its board, which at the time accounted for about 16%. Wilson added that this led to the investment firm recommending voting against the chairman at the general meeting that year because he could not see how the company could ensure that by 33% of board members by 2020 the roles of women will not be – the target set by the Hampton Alexander review.
“The council is now 40% women, which is a great achievement, especially given the industry in which they sit,” she said.
Miranda Beacham, Head of Environmental, Social and Equity and Multi-Asset Management at Asset Manager Aegon, has singled out IT services firm Softcat for its efforts to reverse its lack of gender diversity. Beacham said chairman Martin Hellawell, who was previously CEO of the company, conceded that Softcat has a ‘laddish culture’. Softcat did not immediately respond to OilGasJobz’s request for comment.
“So he has worked very hard since he became chairman, trying to change the inclusivity of the company, to make it a better place for not just women,” she said.
The IT firm Aveva was another that, according to Beacham, made efforts to reduce the gaps in gender diversity. One area where it is trying to rectify was the number of staff in India, she explained that many female workers are seeing departure to start families and to strive further due to the changes in the software industry.
In 2018, Aveva began reaching out to the women who were leaving so that they could offer help refining their skills should they decide to rejoin the company. Beacham said it was ‘very comforting’ to hear that this strategy meant the company could retain many of its female employees.
That being said, Aveva was the fifth worst player in the 2021 Hampton Alexander rankings in the 2021 rankings, with only two women on the board of nine directors, but this figure is due to the fact that the shareholders’ representatives are male, which is beyond their control. , “said Beacham.
And Beacham added that diversity and inclusion do have the “ability for different perspectives to challenge the status quo and ask the questions that need to be asked.”
“You will eventually make better decisions,” she said.
The EU-backed EWOB published its 2020 position of the best European companies in terms of gender diversity on the Stoxx 600 index in January. It ranked enterprises according to the share of women in leadership, board, executive and committee roles.
Here are the top 10:
1. Wihlborgs Fastigheter
7. Asr Netherlands
9. Suez Area
According to a Bank of America report published last week, full gender equality could contribute as much as $ 28 billion to global gross domestic product by 2025.
However, the report said that although women’s labor force participation has moved closer to men in every advanced economy in recent decades, women were “still less likely to do paid work than men.”
“If women do work, they are more likely to do it part-time, they are less likely to advance to management positions, they are more likely to face discrimination, and they earn less than men,” the authors of the report said.
The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated gender inequality, and women are more likely to work in the sector hardest hit. Research has also shown that during the global health crisis, women took on the bulk of unpaid work, such as additional responsibilities for childcare and household duties.