Rethinking structures to achieve gender equality
“You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure”. Mary Beard’s approach in her work Women and Power: A Manifesto became once again exposed during the pandemic. UNICEF found that 51% of women suffered greater overload in household tasks. The foundation of today’s organizational structures continues being unequal despite the tremendous progress made in recent years in terms of gender balance in the corporate world.
As digital life accelerates, the future opens up at a speed never seen before. We can’t continue clinging to these unbalanced and unequal structures; it is imperative to rethink from scratch gender perspective in companies. The best way to do this is from an inclusive perspective which recognizes and satisfies the practical and strategic needs of those composing each organization.
However, gender gaps – a constant in the corporate world – have been around for long. We need to eradicate concepts such as “glass ceilings” (which represent an “invisible” barrier limiting women from rising in the corporate ladder), “sticky floor” (referring to a discriminatory employment pattern which maintains women in low-paying, low-mobility positions) or “broken ladders” (where women have unstable incomes and difficulty in reconciling employment with domestic work and care).
An alternative way to achieve results which are different from the ones we have today is to move towards substantial gender equality, a model which promotes the elimination of differences in opportunities for men and women and places strong emphasis on designing, implementing and evaluating actions aimed at guaranteeing the human rights of each member of the organization. This is a strategy which is beneficial to the direct recipients – and even to society as a whole – as well as to the entire organization, which enjoys a broader, more diverse and innovative outlook. McKinsey forecasts that if a solution for the gender gap was found by 2025, the world’s GDP would increase by more than 5 billion dollars!
We can’t continue passively accepting different wages for equivalent positions, based only on the professional’s gender. How is it possible that in the 21st Century women still have less opportunities than men of participating in meetings or of exposing their views in the corporate structure?
The numbers are staggering for our times: in Latin America, only 50% of women have access to the labor market, compared to 70% of men, according to data from the International Labour Organization.
In Lumen Latin America, we contribute with our little grain of sand with our Virtual Meetings, promoting diversity, inclusion and belonging among our human capital, ensuring that each employee develops their best personal and professional version.
We have been living in a rapidly changing world for ten months. The ways in which we work, relate and evaluate the performance of people and organizations is changing. We are facing an extraordinary opportunity to create, as if we were in front of a blank slate, a new corporate reality marked by gender parity. We have seen that nothing is impossible. Not even achieving gender equality. It only depends on each one of us.
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