International Women’s Day: the state of gender parity in the workplace

8 March 2020 - Reading time: 5 Minutes

Equality equals prosperity. Or, in the words of the World Economic Forum: economies and societies can only thrive when they strive for gender parity on all levels. With International Women’s Day just around the corner, now is a good time to take stock of where we are in terms of gender equality in the workplace. 

Global: women and men currently active in the labour market (2020)

What it means: With just 55% of women engaged in the global job market compared to 78% of men, economies and businesses around the world are failing to harness enormous talent and potential. This undoubtedly has a negative impact on their growth, competitiveness and readiness for the future. 

The European Gender Equality Index

On a European level, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has developed a unique tool to measure the progress of gender parity in the EU: the Gender Equality Index. The Index serves as a guideline for policymakers to take measures where needed. It consists of 6 core domains: work, money, knowledge, time, power and health.

The domain of work measures the gender gaps in labour market participation, duration of working life, sectoral segregation patterns, and quality of work (flexibility, career prospects etc.). 

What it means: In the countries where SD Worx is active, the Netherlands takes the lead in workplace equality, followed by the UK and Austria. All countries score above the EU’s GEI in the work domain. SD Worx is also active in Switzerland, but since the GEI is an EU-only tool, there is no index score available for the country. 

Women on board

The low percentage of women on companies’ boards of directors is an ongoing cause for concern. According to Harvard University, companies with more diverse boards perform significantly better. Here’s how the countries where SD Worx is active do when it comes to board equality:


Why do companies with more diverse boards perform better? This is because diversification increases the number of potential board members and increases the odds of attracting members with the right talent, skills and experience. Even more, it sends a clear message of inclusivity to the whole company, which in turn can lead to greater employee diversity. 

The future of (in)equality

Despite numerous efforts, the global gender equality gap is closing at a snail’s pace. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 report on gender parity, the most important economic hurdle is the underrepresentation of women in emerging sectors. 
• Cloud computing: 12% women
• Engineering: 15% women
• Data and AI: 26% women
What it means: diversification policies and inclusive workforce strategies are an absolute must for companies to bridge the gender gap. Only when these issues are addressed will men and women be able to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by modern technology.

3 ways you can help

1. Introduce blind recruitment: Eliminate (unconscious) biases in your recruitment processes by adhering to blind recruitment. Without any knowledge of gender or background, all that’s left to base your decision on is the candidate’s merits and credentials.
2. Allow flexible hours and working from home: Make it easier for employees – women ànd men – to combine work and family by introducing flexible hours and working from home. 
3. Look beyond the quota: An inclusive recruitment policy is about more than adhering to strict quota. Arguably even more important is how people are treated after they are hired. Does everyone get the same chances? Are they truly part of the team? Listen to their experiences and suggestions. 

At SD Worx, we believe in the combined strengths of m/v/x in the workplace. Subscribe to our newsletter for more tips on workplace inclusivity and other great content.

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