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Overcoming blind spots to drive gender equality

Photograph: Shutterstock

Imagine this: a world free from gender bias, with equal voice and equal representation for all individuals. A world where everyone is seen as equal. Unfortunately, there are barriers that stand in the way of gender equality, both in the workplace and around the world, that show today’s approaches to gender equality are falling short. In fact, the latest World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report estimates it will take a staggering 257 years to close the gap on economic participation.   

A big reason the world is moving backward is because society continues to perpetuate false narratives that pigeonhole gender equality as a women’s issue. These false narratives create blind spots in the way people think, act, believe and behave. They cause people tofocus on fixing women rather than fixing the systems that perpetuate the global gender gap. But what if it was acknowledged that gender inequality needs to be fixed—but women don’t need to be?This mindset shift changes everything.

When society checks these blind spots, a broader picture comes into view, helping them recognize the systems, norms, cultures and biases that must be addressed before the workplaceand the worldcan see everyone as equals. Procter & Gamble Professional and parent company Procter & Gamble (P&G) have very publicly taken actions to be leaders for gender equality by starting within the organizations’ walls, including:

  • Creating equal and inclusive workplaces through equality-based policies, inclusive cultures and equality-minded leaders. For example, many companies have taken steps to improve maternity leave—but this doesn’t address the total picture. Caring for home and family has no gender, which is why P&G offers paid paternity leave in every country where it operates. When companies support leave for all parents, it’s healthy for children and builds equality in the workplace.
  • Prioritizing the wealth gap by closing the pay gap—the difference between how women and men are paid in similar positions—is the first step. But the deeper issue is the imbalance in representation at the top of organizations, which creates an income or wealth gap for women over the course of their careers. The best way to address this is to achieve 50-50 representation at every level—including the C-suite. P&G is working toward its goal to achieve a 50-50 split at every level of leadership, including the board of directors.
  • Commitment from the very top of the organization along with intentional, long-term talent planning at every level is essential to achieve 50-50. Setting targets or quotas only for women is too narrow. Companies need to look at their total enrollment, setting targets and quotas for women and men by conducting robust, long-term talent planning, with clear data and a path for every organization leader to get to 50-50.
  • Most corporate leaders and decision-makers believe they are already addressing gender equality. But bias still gets in the way until it is recognized by checking individual blind spots. P&G has actively committed to shining a light on bias and setting new expectations, from changing the narrative in advertising to the work done with partners around the world.

There are many benefits of breaking down the barriers to gender equality in the workplace, including creating an environment where everyone can thrive. Employees will notice, and with today’s consumers paying close attention to what a company stands for before deciding to patronize or purchase, fostering a diverse, equal and inclusive company culture could even help boost revenue.

This post is sponsored by P&G Professional

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