Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023
Five pillars of gender equality in the workforce

Five pillars of gender equality in the workforce

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Corporations that have a woman CEO tend to have higher representation of women at all levels of the firm.

The increased demand for diversity and inclusion (D&I) has significant implications for the D&I policies and processes being developed across the corporate world.

The rise in D&I awareness also impacts corporate culture and the ability to attract and retain talent. At many firms, the value of D&I initiatives and the importance of creating diverse and equitable workplaces are understood, but it’s difficult to manage what’s not being measured. Identifying gaps and problem areas is key. 

As such, the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) Gender Reporting Framework aims to collect, standardise and publish gender metrics data, with objectives. 

In creating this report. Bloomberg's focuses on five key pillars. For this cycle, 620 companies submitted their gender-related data to be considered for inclusion in the 2023 Gender-Equality Index. Of this group, 484 companies have been selected by scoring above the 2023 threshold for index inclusion, as determined by Bloomberg’s GEI criteria.

While the report takes on a global view, the APAC region specifically scored 67% in terms of its average scores.

Let's take a look at the five pillars that you may consider for your gender-equality and diversity strategy.

Pillar one: Leadership & talent pipeline

The issue of women’s representation on corporate boards is deemed central, alongside the development and promotion of processes designed to attract, nurture and retain talent. Per the report, the leadership & talent pipeline pillar measures the company’s commitment to attracting, retaining and developing women for senior leadership positions.

Beyond the board, it is important to track gender representation across all levels of the firm. Diverse gender representation offers diversity of thought and enhanced innovation. Fostering an environment for growth and development affects a firm’s bottom line.

The talent pipeline also impacts employee retention. Employees tend to look for reflections of themselves in corporate leadership, asking questions such as: “Can I relate to my managers? Do I see myself moving up here? What are my options and pathways for continued advancement and success?”

By analysing representation across each level of the firm, corporations can also identify where there may be a fault in the employee pipeline, examine what may be causing it, and take steps to address it.

Overall, the index reported an increase of 2% in the average leadership and talent pipeline score, totalling 53% from last year. 

Women’s representation on the board continues to be an indicator of the representation of women executives in the corporation as a whole. Corporations that have a woman CEO tend to have higher representation of women at all levels of the firm.

Pillar two: Equal pay & gender pay parity

This pillar addresses how a company is closing the gender pay gap through transparent and effective action plans. Beyond crediting companies for adhering to what is required of them, identifying the proportion of women in each pay quartile highlights the distribution of opportunities within the firm.

Articulating how a firm is working to close the gender pay gap through regular assessment assists firms in their efforts to implement checks and balances in their pay practices and to undertake additional measures to eliminate gender biases

This year, the mean gender pay gap has persisted for GEI members, although it has dropped slightly from 19.0% to 17.6%, as scored.

Noticeably, the gender pay gap is lower when a woman CEO is present — the average mean gender pay gap for companies without a woman CEO was 18, while the average mean gender pay gap for companies with a woman CEO was 9.

This means that, on average, the mean gender pay gap is 50% lower for companies with women CEOs. The data also shows that corporations with more women executives are more likely to conduct a gender-based compensation review to understand the gender gap in pay.

Pillar three: Inclusive culture

An inclusive culture helps evaluate how the policies, benefits, and programmes contribute to a work environment in which all employees feel they are valued and have equal opportunities.

Beyond detailing the company policies, firms are asked to track whether their employees are taking full advantage of the benefits offered to them. However, Bloomberg acknowledges that inclusive culture remains the most difficult pillar to quantify. With this in mind, the framework assesses policies and benefits offered to employees, as well as employee engagement, because there are people behind the numbers.

The communications, financial, and technology sectors led the field on inclusive culture scores, with 81%, 76% and 72%, respectively. In contrast, sectors whose workforce typically has a higher proportion of staff in manual labour roles scored the lowest. Namely, industrials and materials scored the lowest for inclusive culture.

On average, GEI companies provide their employees with 11 weeks of paid parental leave for primary caregivers and four weeks of paid parental leave for secondary caregivers. Further, a large majority of GEI companies (86%) offer unconscious bias training to their employees.

Pillar four: Anti-sexual harassment policies

These metrics assess the strength of a company’s anti-sexual harassment policies and its procedures to address employee claims.

Only 35% of GEI companies prohibited NDAs for sexual assault and harassment cases during FY 2021, but Bloomberg expects this number to increase going into FY 2023. Part of the work of pillar four tackles the issues of violence against women and explores how the corporate community can help shed light and provide assistance on these very personal matters.

Of 478 member companies disclosing this information, 303 companies require annual anti-sexual harassment training (63%). However, 47 member companies still require all anti-sexual harassment claims be taken to private arbitration, which effectively implies that victims may have no say in the outcome.

Pillar five: External Brand

Lastly, the external brand pillar gauges how a company is perceived by stakeholders considering factors such as its supply chain, products and services, how women are portrayed in advertising, and external support for women in the community.

Under this, corporations have a responsibility to think about the communities in which they operate: how are they depicting women and children in advertising and marketing?

Diversity in the supply chain has the power to influence positive change around the world. The average external brand score for the year (54%) grew by 4%. 

According to the report, reskilling and education are key to ensure job continuity. As the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning evolves, it is important to take steps to avoid embedding gender biases in datasets and training models.


Lead image / Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index

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