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  • Isobel McEwan

50/50 by 2020: A new vision for the future of women in leadership and innovation


We published this blog last year but as the New Year approaches and we prepare to welcome in 2018, we are revising the future of women in business and innovation. The 50/50 by 2020 movement has been bubbling in recent years, but as another year ticks by we’re focusing on what this means for women in organisations around the world - how businesses can contribute and the potential impact this could have on innovation.

WHAT IS 50/50 BY 2020?

50/50 by 2020 is a social campaign aimed at promoting gender equality in the work place, particularly in the realm of corporate leadership and high level positions within business.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

While 2017 has been another busy year for organisations around the world, the business environment still does not fully incorporate women into the highest levels of leadership and corporate decision making. In order to fully understand the significance of the 50/50 by 2020 campaign and its potential impact, it is necessary to first look at the current situation.

It is a well-known fact that over half the world’s population is female, but the statistics for the role of women in business do not yet match this balance. A few statistics highlighted by Women on Business, an online platform recognised by Forbes as one of the top 100 websites for women, demonstrates the current inequality of gender roles when it comes to business and innovation.

They highlight that when it comes to education, women receive 60% of undergraduate degrees and 60% of graduate degrees, but only 37% of MBAs.

In January 2017 women held 26 (5.2%) of the CEO positions at the S&P 500 companies.

While significant progress has been made in the field of gender equality in the workplace, there is still much more work to be done.

WHY 50/50 IS SIMPLY BUSINESS SENSE

While there are many arguments to support the need for gender equality at the highest levels of leadership, perhaps the most basic one is that it is simply good business sense.

According to the 50/50 by 2020 campaign ‘research suggests that organisations that value the diversity brought by both women and men are better able to attract and retain high performers and improve operational performance.’ Founder Kevin Maggiacomo continued ‘research by Catalyst found Fortune 500 companies with the highest percentage of female corporate officers reported, on average, a 35.1 percent higher return on equity and a 34 percent higher return to shareholders than companies with the lowest percentages of female corporate officers.’

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is also very public in her support of women leaders in the workplace. Her ground-breaking book Lean In has achieved international best seller status. Through her words and her Ted Talk ‘Why we have too few women leaders’ (which has received over 7.7m views) she has inspired business women around the world to create their own Lean In circles to promote gender diversity.

Likewise Forbes attested in a 2014 article that ‘the companies that perform best financially have the greatest numbers of women in leadership roles’.

A MOVEMENT FOR ALL

Perhaps one of the most important things to note about the 50/50 by 2020 campaign is its status as a universal movement. In the same way that the UN Women’s movement HeforShe is campaigning for the incorporation of men into defeating global gender inequality, 50/50 by 2020 is asking both men and women to unite in order to reach these goals. With the benefits to business and innovation clearly defined, the ability of this movement to make a difference is profound.

In an article written on International Women’s Day for The Huffington Post, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged the commitment of the Scottish Parliament to the 50/50 by 2020 campaign. She argued, ‘Some of the brightest and best women in our society are stifled in their ambitions and that is a tragedy, both for the women but also for wider society.’

Sturgeon continued ‘it's clear that achieving gender equality in the workplace is one of the most important ways in which we can increase economic growth. It's an objective of the Scottish Government - but it should also be a business priority for every company.’ Her parting words that ‘if you are good enough and work hard enough, there is nothing that should hold you back from reaching your full potential and achieving your dreams’ is a rallying cry for those in Scotland and beyond to embrace the potential for change put forward by the 50/50 by 2020 campaign, and the benefits this could have for individuals, businesses, and societies.

WHAT CAN YOU AND YOUR ORGANISATION DO?

Take the first step today by searching for your local 50/50 by 2020 campaign and pledging your support. Add your voice to the millions who have already said ‘I am in favour of creating a better world by achieving a healthy gender balance in leadership by 2020’

Wishing you a successful, healthy and Happy New Year from everyone here at Belken Ross.

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