Creating a Think Tank Environment for Gender Equality
When we want to find a solution to a business problem we conduct research; we talk to colleagues, we ask customers. We share thoughts and ideas in order to thoroughly understand the problem, which in turn will lead to a workable solution. Tackling gender equality is no different. Unless a company immerses itself in the issues and opens itself to a range of different points of view, then it’s difficult to see how attempts to address gender imbalances will succeed.
Creating such a think tank environment involves a variety of strategies. As a company that wants to understand the issue of gender equality, not only for ourselves but in order to help our clients, we have embarked on two main exploratory programmes – forums and surveys. So how does each one stack up in terms of gaining a better understanding of the problems?
Forums: It’s important to understand that gender equality is not a corporate problem; it’s a cultural issue. So getting involved with forums such as the Global Women’s Forum are a great way to observe and gain an understanding of the cultural issues internationally, as well as talk about corporate concerns and share best practice about gender equality. It’s important that involvement is not only ongoing but at CEO level, so that a high level vision of how gender equality impacts companies can be filtered down throughout the corporate ecosystem.
Surveys: Gathering proprietary information is a more formal way of drilling down into specific issues on gender equality. In order to learn from any information gathered, it’s important to make sure that generational as well as cultural differences are recorded and taken into account in order to gain a deeper understanding of the problems affecting the workforce.
Certainly both strategies can help develop an environment where the issue of gender equality can be explored and better understood. And while we know organisational change will not happen overnight, so long as companies are creating the right environment to address the issues we are moving forward. The challenge now for us all is to take this understanding and embed it into a corporate strategy that will eventually correct the current gender imbalance in the workforce.
How we play our part
Present in 72 countries, Mazars has the capacity to get involved in the debate on the wider issues of diversity. For the past eight years we have been involved in the Women’s Forum, which celebrated its 10th anniversary at an event in Deauville, France in October 2014. During this time we have also partnered with Indian, Chinese and Russian delegations as part of a CEO Champions Club in order to gain a greater understanding of the issues globally. We were also one of the 30 host members of the Global Summit of Women held in Paris in June 2014. In addition, we have conducted a number of high-level global surveys on an annual basis to record the thoughts, hopes and aspirations of different generations of women in society and in the workplace. Our most recent survey is “Welcome to the Women’s Planet – Three generations of women on the evolution of gender equality across the globe”. Our work in this area is ongoing.
Muriel de Saint Sauveur. Global Diversity Director. Mazars Group