IWD2022: Breaking the Bias
Change takes time, it takes effort, it takes a community of people breaking biases to establish new norms for the generations to come.
Let’s face it, women in the workforce have consistently gotten the short end of the stick. According to the 2021 Mckinsey Women in the Workplace 2021 study, “for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted.” This trend has been prevalent since 2016 and equates to fewer women in the pipeline to promote to senior leadership positions. See, change takes time.
In the fields of Finance and Technology this trend is especially prevalent as women are severely underrepresented. On March 8th, International Women’s Day, we have the opportunity to learn more about how we can close the gender gap from top female leaders living in this space.
Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance, H.E. Yuriko Backes; Chairwoman of LuxFlag, Denise Voss; Julie Becker, CEO of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange; and Giulia Iannucci, CEO and Founder of KnowThyBrand are among those who will take the stage to share their perspectives and tactics to drive meaningful change. What we do today impacts the future generation. Join the live stream to become equipped to take action for yourself and others.
What exactly can you expect to learn? First and foremost you will learn concrete facts about the challenges women endure, the status quo so to speak. You will be given practical tips to make a change and foster inclusion and lastly hear about the challenges and aspirations faced by younger women waiting to enter the workforce. This live stream is just the starting point – join supplementary events as part of a wider programme with practical seminars throughout the year to continue the conversation and champion change. We need both women and men working together in the long term to make an impact.
Challenges Women Face
As we have alluded to, women experience a multitude of challenges in the workplace, not just one. These can include any of the following:
- Gender Bias: This is true across all sectors but even more in industries that are traditionally considered a man’s-domain. A survey by JobsforHer shows that 82% of the women working in Technology feel unheard. Consciously or unconsciously their opinion is not listened to or is easily disregarded.
- Additionally, “women are often held to higher performance standards than men,” reports McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace study. “And they may be more likely to take the blame for failure.”
- Lack of Role Models: Shortage of female role models are a major barrier for young women to pursue studies in Technology or Finance. Seeing women in leadership positions and having the opportunity to network with them is vital to helping motivate women to advance their careers.
- Educational Limits: Girls are not encouraged to pursue a career in STEM as much as boys in the same way that girls are not encouraged to play sports like football or boys ballet.
- Boys Club Mentality: Instinctively all humans tend to trust people that look like them. This affects the opportunities for women to join ‘the group’, take part in events outside of work to bond with colleagues. Therefore their chances to be noticed, to be part of conversations and ultimately to be promoted are significantly reduced. The ‘boys club’ still exists.
- Gender Pay Gap: If you search for ‘gender pay gap’ you will receive 371,000,000 hits. The consensus of the search results is that women receive less money than their male counterparts and have been for half a century. Earning less and working overtime makes taking on the additional responsibilities of a promotion less appealing to women.
To top it off, we need to add another layer to the aforementioned challenges in the form of microaggressions. These microagressions can be anything from sexist language to mansplaining to sexual harassment. Women have a lot to overcome.
How We Foster Change
You now understand the challenges women face and we hope you don’t just sit there idly. Change is possible and it starts today by creating opportunities for the current and future generations.
An article by RippleMatch states that “after five years of research, McKinsey and LeanIn.org have found that most women are derailed in their first few years in the workforce: when their first promotion is delayed or never happens, it sets the course for their entire career trajectory. This “broken rung,” as McKinsey calls it, is the biggest factor for continued workplace inequality.” But some companies are leading the charge to fix that “broken rung”.
In 2021 the number of women in managerial positions across the world grew +3% compared to 2019, a milestone we should celebrate. However, we still have a long way to go in our journey towards gender equality as women still only hold 31% of managerial positions globally. Similarly, the 2021 Fortune 500 list revealed a record high number of 41 female CEOs, but that is low relative to the 459 CEO positions held by men.
Nonetheless progress is being made as people are paying attention. According to the World Bank women account for 51% of the European population and by allowing them to reach their full potential everyone benefits.
These benefits can take form in many ways, for example:
- Research has proven that companies with women in leadership positions outperform those that don’t
- Diversity supports innovation
- If women were paid the same as men, families will be financially better off
For change to happen we need people (communities) to invest time and resources in women-led initiatives.
This is why we are here together: To start a journey of discovery on how we can all take positive and practical steps to achieve gender inclusion.
We have designed a programme that empowers women by providing powerful, positive role models.
The book Mirror Thinking by Fioana Murden proves this need for role models existed in caveman days. Men would learn from and imitate the best hunter to try and get the same hunting results. They would see what works and what does not and replicate it. In the same way, women need to see confidence, leadership and successes from other women in order to envision themselves in leadership positions.
We truly believe that leveraging the professional and personal experiences of female leaders and allies within the Financial and Technological ecosystem is the best way to take action.
This event will pave the way to learn practical ways to become gender inclusion champions. It is about learning and being inspired, not about pink washing. One small action can make a big difference. Start by registering for the live stream event to learn more about ‘The Power of Gender Inclusion’ and how you can contribute your voice to champion change.
Long Term Learning
We recognize that one event is not enough to spearhead critical gender inclusion discussions. Therefore, as mentioned, we have created a programme which will extend throughout the year and will be a combination of both a practical seminar and speaking event. These two sessions will take place in June and October of this year and will tackle both the external and internal barriers women face in Finance and Technology.
To make sure you get your seat at the table, sign up to be notified before the event goes live.
Research shows that gender diversity is an essential factor for the growth of any organization and the level of female representation is strongly correlated to business performance. According to a study by Pipeline, companies with strong female leadership generated a 10.1% return on equity per year, compared to 7.4% for those without strong female leadership.
And yet, real gender diversity is still elusive. This is particularly true in critical sectors like Finance and Technology, sectors that are at the very heart of Luxembourg economy where women hold only 20% of the executive roles in Financial enterprises and make up 27% of the total STEM workers according to the Tokenist.
Today, Luxembourg has an opportunity to address these disparities and support a more inclusive Finance and Technology ecosystem and we hope you decide to be our ally.
Darya Niknamian is a freelance writer and advocate of gender equality. For the last 10 years she has worked in the female empowerment space in North America, Asia and Europe. Her initiatives have provided hundreds of women with the tools and resources to take on leadership positions, found companies and ask for fairer salaries and working opportunities.