The Importance of Male Voices in the Gender Equity Narrative
By: Katica Roy, Michael Kimmel, and Stefanie Johnson
Last year’s revelations about sexual harassment by prominent men (Fox host Bill O’Reilly, Today Show host Matt Lauer, movie producer Harvey Weinstein, and a host of others) only serve to underscore how far we are from full gender equity in the workplace.
Our Present State
Economists estimate that we are 217 years away from full gender equality. Despite women making up 51% of the U.S. population and 46% of the labor force in the U.S., 94% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are male (and the percentage increases to 95% if expanded to the Fortune 1000). Men comprise 92% of partners in venture capital firms, 76% of parliamentary leaders worldwide, and 81% of members of the United States Congress.
At the same time, there is mounting evidence of the clear economic benefits of gender equity in the workplace. Companies in the top quartile in gender diversity outperform bottom quartile by 15%. Every 1% increase in gender diversity translates into a 3% boost in sales and a 10% increase in gender diversity results in a 3.5% increase in earnings. The results are even more striking at the top. Investing in companies with women on the board will gain 36.4% greater returns. A 2015 Peterson Institute analysis of nearly 22,000 public companies in 91 countries showed a significant correlation between women at the C-suite level and firm profitability.
So, why aren’t we making faster progress on gender equity?
The Vital Role of Men In Achieving Gender Equity
We need men to be a part of the gender equity conversation. Men hold most of the decision-making authority in both the public and private sector in the U.S. The role of men as sponsors and allies along the gender equity path is key.
Data shows that gender equity is a financial win for everyone. In fact, we could add $12T to the global economy and $2T to the U.S. economy by reaching gender equity. Whether or not you agree that gender equity is an issue, most of us can agree it’s an economic opportunity. Changing the narrative around the value of women in the workplace is an opportunity not only for women, but for everyone.
Envisioning an Inclusive Future
Men and women both suffer from inequity and failing societal norms. For instance 48% of working fathers would stay home with their children if they could. Men are far more likely to die from suicide than women. Men experience poor health outcomes as a result of career and financial pressure. What if the 48% of men who wanted to stay home with their children were able to? What would that do for women in the workplace and for families? In fact, productivity in the U.S. would increase by 5.4% if household work was divided up irrespective of gender.
In 40% of households with children under the age 18 women are the breadwinner. Inequitable opportunities for women impacts families, communities, and our economy. More than 1 in 3 single mothers lives in poverty in the U.S., and women are overall 35% more likely to live in poverty than men.
Our Slow Progress
So why, with all the mounting economic evidence pointing toward the benefits of creating gender equity, aren’t we making faster progress?
To our detriment, we have made gender equity a women’s issue, even though it is a critical economic issue affecting almost everyone. Therefore, our messaging on gender equity has resulted in backlash from men who want and need to be part of the solution rather than targeted as the problem (gender equity is not a zero sum game, rather it expands the economic pie for all).
Here is what we know: we cannot achieve gender equity without the support of men. Men hold the majority of positions of power and we need them if we are going to close the gender equity gap.
Let’s Step Up
Men need to step up not only because gender equity is the economically smart thing to do– which it is. And not only because women need men to do so – which they do. But also because supporting gender equity – loudly and visible – is important for men. Men are stakeholders in the gender conversation.
Let’s step up and create a new narrative around gender equity that includes men and women – and improves the economic outcomes for all.
Katica Roy is a gender economist, CEO and founder of Pipeline, a Colorado-based startup and artificial intelligence (AI) SaaS platform engineered to stop unconscious bias in the workplace. As a vocal proponent for closing the gender gap in the workplace, Roy brings a data-driven perspective to gender equity. With more than two decades of experience in technology, healthcare and financial services, Roy has a rare combination of expertise and passion for gender equity, people analytics, and sales operations.
Michael Kimmel the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, has published several books about men’s role in society, and founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook in 2013.
Stefanie K. Johnson is an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship at University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. Dr. Johnson studies and has published articles on the intersection of leadership and diversity, focusing on how unconscious bias affects the evaluation of leaders, and strategies that leaders can use to mitigate bias.
Photo credit: Noah Berg, Noah Berg Photography.
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Katica Roy is an ambassador for gender equity in the workplace and beyond. She is the CEO and founder of Denver-based Pipeline, an award-winning SaaS platform that leverages artificial intelligence to drive economic gains through closing the gender equity gap. Synopsis As CEO and founder of Denver-based Pipeline, Katica enables businesses to realize capital and cultural improvements in the workplace. An award-winning business leader with over two decades of experience in technology, healthcare and financial services, Katica... Continue Reading
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