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What Does Diversity Mean to You?

What Does Diversity Mean to You?

Diversity in the workplace is a commonly used phrase today. But what does it mean? In its broadest terms, diversity in the workplace covers a wide range of gender issues including age, race, belief and physical disability. Yet from a practical aspect, any company policy on diversity needs to reflect a number of strategies rather than a one policy fits all approach.

For instance, there is no question that the issue of gender equality is one that affects each and every company and needs to be addressed globally. But managing the differences within the broader spectrum of diversity is a decision each company has to make individually, whether it’s through a focus on a minority issue in Indonesia or an LGBT problem in the UK.

The tie in that companies have with these different aspects of diversity can offer a more practical method of reaping the benefits that gender equality and diversity can bring. We know, for example, that the greater the mix of people in a company, the more skills and ideas a business has to draw on. A diverse workforce also offers a more accurate reflection of society in general, which enables companies to be more sympathetic to consumer needs. It also makes sense not to overlook a valuable talent pool that represents half the population. So embracing gender equality and wider diversity issues not only makes ethical sense, but economic sense.

Japan is a prime example of this. The country faces a demographic time bomb with an ageing population that is draining the public purse, yet there is a resistance at company level to employ more women due to deeply held cultural beliefs on the role of women in society. This is gradually changing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe now pledging to increase the number of women in senior roles in an attempt to address the imbalances in a male dominated corporate environment. Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, has also added her voice to Mr Abe’s efforts by saying that it makes economic sense as even by raising the female labour force to the average level of the Group of Seven (G7) economies could raise income per capita by 4% permanently.

Japan may be an extreme example of how employing more women in the workforce can improve a country’s economic performance, but it’s something that a number of countries can identify with. In this respect, companies have a key role to play by ensuring that gender equality and diversity are better represented at executive and board level. It not only makes financial sense, but it proves the ability to innovate by embracing change before it becomes a legal requirement.

How we play our part

The French National Committee for UN Women joined forces with Mazars to conduct an intergenerational survey which both partners firmly belief has a contribution to make to the current debate on women’s rights. The French National Committee for UN Women is an independent French association that supports the UN Women mission in favour of women’s rights and gender equality. Created in 2013, the Committee acts as the relay in France for the international campaigns carried out by UN Women. Our most recent survey is “Welcome to the Women’s Planet – Three generations of women on the evolution of gender equality across the globe” is now available to view online. In 2015 UN Women will organise a major mobilisation campaign to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Conference on women’s rights and development, that is one of the most important commitments in the area of the promotion of women’s rights internationally and one which Mazars hopes to champion.

Further reading on this topic:
Creating a Think Tank Environment for Gender Equality
Gender Equality on a Collision Course

Muriel de Saint Sauveur. Global Diversity Director. Mazars Group

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