WOMEN AND WORK EQUALITY?
Last week I read an interesting article “Let’s not wait a century” by Mark Weinberger, CEO & Global Chairman of EY. This article is the response of Mr. Weinberger to a World bank report that said, “Women won’t achieve equality at work for another 118 years”. He expresses his concern being a father and lays out a three step action plan being the CEO. This plan talks about creating Sponsor programs for women; creating a culture of inclusion; and looking at entire pipeline in order to achieve equality for women in workplace.
His article is very apt to the bearing of the business. While it shows the path to many with an action plan, it did put me in the realms of my thoughts as well. And I seem to have a completely different take on the report that says, “Women won’t have equality at work for another 118 years”.
Now, I haven’t read this report and am not aware of the modus operandi that led to such conclusion. But this powerful statement that can put the business world in frenzy to work towards equality in work place is sufficient enough to invoke some questions in my mind. I think it would not be wrong to ponder a minute before we jump into the action.
- Where does a woman see herself in the light of this statement? – I am a little confused and a little elated reading this statement. Because, where I am currently as a woman in corporate, I never felt the inequality because of being a woman. And to date, I feel the same. So, am I an exception or am I just ignorant? How would other women respond or react to this statement? Will it be a shocking revelation about our status or will we immediately agree to it? Will it put the women in self-pity, criticising mode or will it invoke some quest to understand the nature of the inequality it highlights?
- What is considered as ‘Work’ in this report? – My guess is that the report does consider the work that results into a monetary output. Because, otherwise there shall be no question of inequality. Instead, the findings could be in reverse and something on the lines that it will take men forever to achieve equality in work (pardon the sarcasm). Irony is that we have divided the world in societies and economies. There are the kind of work that is essential to build societies, the breeding ground of human possibilities and excellence. And then, there are the kind of work that build economies, the outcome of human possibilities and excellence. It is easier for us to assign value to to the outcome and thus we do not count or recognise a wide array of work that women are engaged in all over the world. Now, is it fair to leave out such work from studies and researches just because it is difficult to assess value of all such work and take out statements that make the women feel not equal? Are these parameters of equality appropriate? And this brings me to the third question i.e.
- Can this objective of equality be achieved without taking into consideration the society and Culture? – Corporate, conglomerates and economies arise out of society or a nation and become a system of its own with its specific culture and values. However, the interactions between the society and this new culture or system keep affecting each other. The ways of one affect the ways of another. Therefore, it is not possible for the business or ‘workplaces’ to achieve this objective of gender equality without drastically changing the society, its structure, its institutions, its beings and bearings. It’s a simple equation – when the women who are at present engaged with the ‘not counted’ but significant work for survival and growth of all Human possibilities (that does include business too) enter the ‘counted for and output oriented’ work, who will manage the work they leave behind? How do we view this shift? Whether we like it or not, the social changes do not happen at the pace of changes in business and technology. They take longer and are un-predictable and they do have the power to make the business change its ways too.
- The last question on my mind is – Is it really about equality? – I wonder why in the first place we are talking about equality!
Should it not be about open opportunities for those who deserve instead of a fixation on creating the right mix of all gender, orientations, races?
Should it not be about the right values where people are allowed to choose the work as per their liking and abilities?
Should it not be about drive, motivation, excellence irrespective of gender, race, class, ethnicity?
Should it not be about changing the mind-sets and acknowledging the work on the basis of its value in creating the better world instead of profitability?