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Quotas and Technology are the only ways to fix gender gap in workplace: World Economic Forum Meet 2017

By   /  January 21, 2017  /  Comments Off on Quotas and Technology are the only ways to fix gender gap in workplace: World Economic Forum Meet 2017

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Davos-Klosters, Switzerland: What are the solutions for gender gap in the corporate world? Quotas and technology appear to be the most powerful tools to address the issue.  “In the last few years, progress has slowed down,” said Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), at the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

IMF Chief said that gender inequality is not conducive to good inclusive economic growth. According to the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, the slowdown is partly due to chronic imbalances in salaries and labour force participation.

Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, said that women should have the opportunity to be in positions based on merit and not quotas, but admitted that it may take quotas to change the situation. “I don’t think it will happen unless there are quotas,” she said. Lagarde informed that gender quotas are in place at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Robert E. Moritz, Global Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International, PwC, USA, a strong advocate of gender equality in the workplace, stressed that disruptive leadership is needed to improve diversity in the boardroom. He recommended, however, that gender programmes within a company are the way to go as opposed to quotas. PwC is a supporter of the UN HeForShe initiative to promote gender equality around the world. But Moritz cautioned: “If males are not in the conversation, you will miss it [reducing the gender gap].”

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Documentary Filmmaker, SOC Films, Pakistan, and a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017, said she took offense when people labelled her a female filmmaker. “I am a filmmaker, not a female filmmaker. What’s a female filmmaker?” The award-winning documentary maker also credited technology for improving women’s lives and business opportunities. “Women are starting their own businesses using social media, forming networks online.”

Mortiz also highlighted how technology plays a useful role in helping women to manage the balance of professional activities with family responsibilities, and providing data to identify gender problems within a company or organization. “With this information, we can change policies and get to individuals from that information to have an intervention.” At a more basic level, de Saint Malo de Alvarado said that mobile phones can provide family planning information for rural women in developing countries who never previously had access.

The 47 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting took place on 17-20 January in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, and ended successfully. This year the theme was Responsive and Responsible Leadership. More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries participated in over 400 sessions.

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