7 Actions to Help Drive Progress for Women at Work

7 Actions to Help Drive Progress for Women at Work
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Mercer convened global leaders attending the 48th annual World Economic Forum to discuss women and work at our When Women Thrive private briefing. Our audience for this fourth annual briefing included 150 individuals, including many CEOs, board members, academics, and influencers from global organizations and representing over 60 countries. And we had a number of Mercer colleagues and other followers on Facebook live. There was a great energy in the room – a sense that everyone present was ready to take a deep dive into what it takes to turn opportunity into action for women and the future of work.

The biggest themes that stemmed from our discussion were:

    Cultivating an environment of trust. Cindy Robbins, President and Chief People Officer at Salesforce, put it so well, “Trust is a core thing and it is very much about the tone from the top.” Employees must be able to trust their employers with their safety and careers in order to bring their whole selves to work.
    Removing biases in the acquisition and development of talent. Robert Smith, CEO of Vista Equity Partners shared, “We don’t have the luxury to discriminate. There are 7.6 billion people on the planet and only 19 million of us know how to write code…to the extent you want to discriminate against half of the world's population is the extent you're going to have diminished returns.”
    Relying on data and analytics to address systemic barriers. Julio A. Portalatin, CEO of Mercer cited our When Women Thrive research highlighting that less than 1/3 of organizations routinely review performance ratings by gender and just over 1/3 conduct pay equity analysis built on statistical proof. “These are actions proven to improve gender diversity, yet very few are doing them. This is not rocket science work. This is pay attention work. We must apply the same disciplines that we apply we manage our financial results.”

    Recognizing technology as an enabler. Adaire-Fox Martin, executive board member of SAP, emphasized that, “If human ingenuity can destroy jobs, human ingenuity can create jobs.” We are living in an age when technology is transforming the future of work, so it is up to us to envision a future of work that harnesses technology to create new opportunities for growth, development, and inclusion.

    Prioritizing benefits and access to care. Sheila Marcelo, Founder and CEO of care.com highlighted that “Too often, care is seen as a private issue, one that is only dealt with in the home. It is the role of employers to lean in to care.” By providing support to their employees across their personal and career lifecycle, organizations will realize the benefit. This was reinforced by Ricardo Marina, CEO of Itaú Latam Unibanco, when he shared that is why Itaú Unibanco has focused on the “opportunity to support women in their careers as they move through the cycle of marriage and motherhood.”

    Aligning on the societal and business imperative. Unilever CHRO, Leena Nair, offered a unique take on the steps needed to advance women. She shared three imperatives – supporting women, systemic change within an organization, and the importance of men in the conversation – that, when linked with gender education in children are at a young age, we are sure to drive progress.
    Equipping and collaborating with men to drive change. We were thrilled to have one of our panels moderated by journalist and author, Joanne Lipmann, author of soon-to-be-released book, THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together. Joanne reinforced that “men really really matter in this conversation - because if it's just women talking to ourselves that's half a conversation and at most we're going to solve half of a problem.”

We are all grateful to have shared this discussion, on the first official morning of the World Economic Forum, with some of the boldest leaders driving a future focused agenda for women and work.

Tomorrow Mercer will pick up the conversation in our Healthy, Wealthy and Work-Wise discussion focused on solutions to the long-term savings gap. Continue to follow along on Twitter and on Facebook at MercerInsights to learn more. And have a look at the recording of today’s When Women Thrive session on Facebook. We welcome your voice to the conversation.

Published on Published on January 23, 2018

Pat Milligan, Global Leader, Multinational Client Group & When Women Thrive, Follow
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