The Future of Gender Equality in the Workplace

By Peter T. Grauer, Chairman of Bloomberg L.P.
Feb 6, 2019 10:50 AM ET

Last week, I sat on a panel with Bank of America Vice Chairman Anne Finucane and Goldman Sachs Managing Director Dina Powell to discuss the state of gender equality in the workplace at Bloomberg’s annual ‘The Year Ahead Davos’. Our conversation focused on the financial imperative for representation across organizations – from the trading floor to the boardroom – and the key trends driving the evolution of equality. Following our productive discussion, I came away with four major factors catalyzing this change:

  • Commitment from the top: Executives and boards need to mobilize change throughout an organization in order for it to be sustainable. This starts with equality in the boardroom, which encourages more responsible governance and leadership. We’re also seeing more involvement from company leadership in the inclusion initiatives and programs they put in place. This sets the example for participation throughout their organization.
  • Investor demand for gender-related data: More than ever, investors are incorporating gender-related data in their decisions because evidence shows inclusive firms outperform non-inclusive firms. In order to attract investors moving forward, more companies will be motivated to disclose their metrics around equality.The Bloomberg GEI, which distinguishes companies committed to disclosing gender policies and practices, points to this trend. The 2019 index more than doubled this year to include 230 firms that scored above a globally-established threshold, based on the extent of their transparency and their achievement of best-in-class statistics and policies.
  • The shift in capital control towards women: Increasingly, women are involved in making significant investment decisions. In the U.S., for the first time, women are in control of more capital than men. This will be a global reality by 2025. At the corporate level, major institutional investors have publicly committed to bring on more women board members. As the transfer of wealth and decision-making power continues, companies’ ability to attract capital will be directly linked to their metrics on issues important to women, with gender equality at the top of that list.
  • Heightened competition in the war for talent: Transparency and commitment to gender equality are differentiators for companies when it comes to talent recruitment and retention. More and more, the best candidates look to work at firms that value diversity and gender inclusion. Firms that fail to tap into the existing pipeline of highly-qualified women will be outpaced by those that do recruit these candidates. Success will be determined by a company’s ability to attract and leverage the full talent pool to build their workforce.

Firms that prioritize inclusion see greater productivity and often, better financial results. Committing to gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but also a business imperative. As companies reinforce their pledge to advancing women in the workplace, we can expect the evolution of equality to accelerate.

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