For the second consecutive year, the World Economic Forum held a plenary session on women. This year, the session focused on women in high-level economic decision-making in both the private and public sector. There has been an explosion of research in the past several years, including the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, which demonstrates a strong link between closing the gender gap and improving economic competitiveness and corporate performance.
The panel recognized that real progress has been made in increasing the number of women in top economic position, including more women on boards and in high-level management. However, statistics around the world indicate that we are still far from closing the economic gender gap and progress remains slow.
The panellists discussed quotas and other policy and organizational changes to accelerate progress. For example, Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner, Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, European Commission, Brussels, described new European legislation setting a target of 40% for women on boards of European corporations. Another panellist noted that low turnover among existing board members slows the process of increasing gender diversity on corporate boards.
Several panellists shared their personal experiences about how they made their way to leadership positions and how they addressed stereotyping and implicit biases along the way. Too often women are held back by such barriers, which are frequently not recognized, discussed or addressed.
· Gender parity is linked to global competitiveness and economic performance. In recent years, there has been an explosion of academic research confirming this link.
· Real gains have been made in the number of women in top economic decision-making positions, but we are still far from closing the economic gender gap and progress is slow.
· Stereotyping and implicit biases to impede the advancement of women to top leadership positions in economic decision-making. As more and more women rise to the top, they can “dare to embrace their diversity” and work with their organizations to address these barriers to ensure that diversity is a foundation of success.
The views expressed are those of certain participants in the discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participants or of the World Economic Forum.