Earlier this month, the World Economic Forum published its 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, which benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity in 146 countries in the dimensions of Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival; and Political Empowerment.

The results contained in the report highlight that at the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to reach full parity, a four year improvement from 2021. RSM International’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader, Candice Eaton Gaul, shares her views on some of the findings contained in the report:

“The findings of the Word Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022 demonstrate that there has been some movement towards gender equality in the last year. While these results may seem positive, it is important to remember that this same report published in 2021 indicated that the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 had impacted women more severely than men, suggesting continued disproportionate vulnerability. As a consequence of the disproportionate impact, some of the figures in the 2022 report may not be reflective of advancement of gender equality in the true sense, but rather a return to levels of historic gain.

“Progress made towards gender equality within corporate environments remains slow on a global scale. In multiple countries there is increasing legislation and reporting requirements are being implemented to address gender inequality in corporate environments, as well as to drive transformation towards equality.

“The way that these various pieces of legislation and public policy attempt to narrow the gender gap vary greatly, ranging from requirements of at least one woman in board participation, through to tracking and reporting on promotion, as well as recording recruitment and gender pay gaps throughout all occupational levels.

“While this should be driven by equality as a moral imperative, there is also an economic benefit in that increased diversity will better equip organisations to improve corporate culture, boost business performance and help support the advancement of solutions that overcome complex global challenges, and drive sustainability.

“Legislation and public policies may be a driver of change but for there to be a robust and pervasive shift towards gender equality, or any form of equality, the need for it has to be internalised at an individual level. If this does not occur, every time there is significant disruption it will expose the same deeply rooted vulnerabilities, as was the case during COVID-19.

“Every person in a corporate environment is presented with opportunities to do better for those around them on a daily basis, to become allies and stewards of corporate communities. Showing stewardship by championing for equality, in all forms, means taking a stand and using influence and decision making to drive change where it is needed.

“Inequality should be challenged wherever it exists. Individuals should not underestimate their ability, and the related responsibility that they have, to assist in driving change where it is needed. After all, if corporate organisations cannot make meaningful and long-lasting change toward greater equality and representation, how can we expect other parts of society to do so?”