Gender equality and equal opportunities form part of our responsibility as economic players – from both a microeconomic and an macroeconomic perspective. This is demonstrated by the current “Women in Work Index 2021” from Strategy&, PwC’s global strategy consulting service.
Gender equality is making slow but steady progress in the member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to the current “Women in Work Index 2021” from Strategy&, which analyses the workplace situation of women in 33 OECD member states, however, these important achievements of the last decade are in danger of being undermined due to the pandemic. The rate of unemployment increased across all OECD countries in 2020, with women losing their jobs far more quickly than men.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the multiple burdens on women from work, unpaid childcare, caring duties and housework. This surge in caring responsibilities has led to more women than men dropping out of the labour force. The longer this situation continues, the more likely it is that those women will leave the job market permanently. Not only does this have negative implications on efforts to achieve gender equality, but it is also stunts economic growth.
The theme of International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2021 was “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”. A future in which equality is a given should be the long-term objective of every company. The “Women in Work Index 2021” calculates that increasing female employment rates across the OECD could boost OECD Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by USD 6 trillion, and closing the pay gap between women and men could increase OECD GDP by a further USD 2 trillion.
In this way, the International Women’s Day placed us under an obligation as managers around the globe. We must stand up for an equal and diverse staffing policy as this is essential for a strong country with a prosperous economy and a healthy society. Diversity is among the microeconomic and macroeconomic success factors and is therefore a core responsibility for us, as decision makers. This is how I personally see it. And this is how we at PwC see it.
Forty-two per cent of employees at PwC are women. We provide equal support to both men and women so that they can achieve their personal career goals and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Thanks to flexible work schedule options and numerous upskilling programmes we incorporate individual needs and a vast array of personal qualities into career planning. Why? Because employees who are mentally and physically fit are satisfied employees who we can rely on to perform well for years to come.
We #ChooseToChallenge inequalities and gender biases in the workforce so that we can make a greater impact in empowering valuable contributions to economic and social growth.We #ChooseToChallenge inequalities and gender biases in the workforce so that we can make a greater impact in empowering valuable contributions to economic and social growth.
We use the values we practice and our clear corporate purpose to motivate our teams, boost our attractiveness as an employer and build trust in our company. This is why we take part in a number of gender equality and diversity initiatives:
We are a founding member of Advance – Women in Swiss Business, the leading business association for equality in Switzerland, and Marc Secretan, our Diversity Partner, is a board member. It is a network of over 100 companies working to increase the number of women in management.
As a co-founder and partner of the HeForShe Initiative by UN Women we advocate for gender equality around the world. HeForShe men are driving the issue of gender equality forward around the globe.
As a member of other global initiatives we have created an integrated workplace in which everyone can feel comfortable being themselves. We are also engaged for our employees in the LGBT+ community. PwC Switzerland was awarded the LGBTI label in 2020.
The Women@Work network assists women in auditing in reaching for leadership positions. Women@Work platforms enable women to network, share experiences and find positive role models.
Leading companies must rely on different talents, skills and mentalities to navigate a world that is growing ever more diverse and complex. With COVID-19 this is true now more than ever as the pandemic has driven forward digitalisation and called into question the idea of national borders and working in company offices. At PwC we have long focussed on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). One such example is the D&I dashboard we developed for our managers. By comparing the D&I progress made by the different departments and divisions, it inspires targeted improvements.
Achieving diversity in the workplace and establishing a culture of inclusion brings with it a whole slew of practical challenges. This is why we share our D&I experience with other companies. Our Diversity Management covers the areas of strategy, analysis of custom metrics, sensitisation and advanced training as well as ideas for an inspiring work environment. We use this to assist other companies in attracting more female staff, fostering talent, removing prejudice, offering equal opportunities and establishing fair remuneration practices.
The publication of our study “Generation Daughter”, which focuses on the role of daughters in taking over the family company, coincides with International Women’s Day. The picture is sobering: sons continue to be the ones chosen to take over the business or take on higher management positions. Even if there is a daughter suited to the position.
Sixty-five per cent of study participants contribute to the family business, which means one third is not involved. Consequently Swiss family businesses are not sufficiently exploiting the potential specialist knowledge, range of issues and motivation offered by their daughters. Traditional role models and clichés are entrenched and there is a lack of female role models. You can read more about it in the PwC study “Generation Daughter”.
Equal pay is not only a human right, it is also an economic necessity. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the gender pay gap in Switzerland rose from 18.1% in 2014 to 19.0% in 2018. This is a large increase and an alarming trend. In June 2020 the revised Federal Act on Gender Equality went into effect. Under this law companies with 100 or more employees must conduct an equal pay analysis by 30 June 2021.
Equal pay is at the top of our staff agenda at PwC. We have been preferred partners of the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation since 2017. This not-for-profit advocates for equal pay between men and women around the world. It has developed a scientifically based method for carrying out an objective salary analysis. PwC Switzerland is EQUAL-SALARY certified. We also support companies as part of our EQUAL-SALARY certification so they can meet the requirements of the Gender Equality Act. In this way we help employers in Switzerland commit to inclusive staff management. The certification recognises the efforts of companies that provide equal pay for equal work and offer all employees the same opportunities.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This quote from George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm describes a utopia that has remained reality up to the present day. This can and must be changed. Therefore, my fellow managers, let us work together during this era of COVID-19 towards a gender-equal future. Here’s hoping we all have the boldness to be inspired by the aims of International Women’s Day 2021 long past 8 March.
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