According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), it’s expected to take more than 200 years (217 to be exact) to achieve parity between the genders.
This startling figure comes from the WEF’s ninth annual Global Gender Gap Report, which was calculated by benchmarking 144 countries on their progress towards gender parity via four main themes. Those being; Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.
It’s for this reason that this year’s International Women’s Day theme is #PressforProgress, as it was hoped that as the years ticked by, the estimated time until parity would shrink. However, it turns out the opposite is true.
One solution to the seemingly ever-growing gender gap, as suggested by the World Economic Forum, is to put more women in leadership positions. The WEF’s data shows that when women are more present and participating in leadership roles, more women are hired across all levels within a business.
We spoke to some of the female leaders at Colt, as well as Carl Grivner – Colt’s CEO, to get their thoughts on International Women’s Day, diversity in general and why now is the perfect time to have an unapologetic conversation about gender-balance.
Caroline Griffin Pain – General Counsel
When it comes to what progress looks like for me, it centres around having a 50/50 representation of men and women in leadership positions. While we have made good progress in the Executive Leadership Team, with three out of the seven members being women, we have further to go when it comes to the next tier down of managers within the business and in the technology sector as a whole. But I am confident we can get there. So for me, having a reasonably balanced leadership team within Colt, sends the message that gender isn’t a barrier when it comes to career advancement. You can rise as high as your skills, hard work and ambition will take you, and that’s progress. I continue to be super impressed by the confidence and drive of my daughter, my nieces and my female colleagues who are at an earlier stage of their careers. They are so much more impressive, articulate and focused than I was at that time, so I am very optimistic about the future.
Mary Alexander – Executive Vice President, Human Resources
Diversity in all its facets is a real business enabler. Our goal at Colt is to leverage our international environment to solve commercial problems and serve our customers better. We need all talented people with us regardless of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation. We are in the business of optimising everyone’s potential and creating an environment where people can thrive. This means creating a level playing field where the true admission price is talent and capability. Where we don’t inadvertently advantage or disadvantage one group over another through working practices, assumptions and biases. Women want a fair shot, to know the criteria for advancement and rewards are objective and transparent, and to be in a company where success is based on merit.
Louisa Gregory – Chief of Staff
Progress will be truly achieved when conversations and actions move past achieving equality, but rather move towards achieving equity. It’s all well and good to put systems in place to help women achieve success in current workplace environments, however I feel it would be more powerful to identity and remove the current barriers to success to ensure everyone has the potential to thrive. As opposed to giving women a helping hand in a system that wasn’t designed by them or for them. It’s easy to talk about equality in an office environment, but we still need to level the greater playing field; and no other statistic resonated more with me than the fact that two thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people are women. We need more than one day to discuss how we as a company and individuals can be enablers for a more equitable society.
Paula Cogan – VP Sales Europe
International Women’s Day is a great catalyst to have a conversation about gender diversity, however it can’t be the only day that we champion equality. This is why at Colt we’ve strived to put such issues on the agenda every day. This has been done through the creation of the group Network 25, which strives to recognise and celebrate women within Colt and also address the fact that only 25% of the business is made up of women. Network 25 was an initiative that started in Colt House in London, and the group is now launching in other markets such as Paris. However, we’re still planning to expand further, so if you’d like to bring Network 25 to your office; connect with the wider network via the Women in Colt group on Facebook Workplace. I feel so proud that this conversation is starting to gain serious momentum, not just at Colt but in wider society as well.
Stephanie Lynch-Habib – Chief Marketing Officer
With global events surrounding women and equality dominating headlines over the past six months, there’s never been a better moment to accelerate the support for gender equality in the workplace. From my standpoint, this means embedding regular and sustained time in my agenda to support Colt’s commitment to diversity and equality. Investing in our high potential women in Colt means sustaining our future success – after all, studies show a diverse leadership team delivers sustained returns to a corporation. I am proud that Colt is extremely supportive of its women at all levels. Success in gender diversity is also incumbent upon our male leaders; they too are responsible for lifting up successful women and we are lucky to have that collective support in Colt.
Carl Grivner – Chief Executive Officer
International Women’s Day isn’t, and quite frankly can’t, be a day where solely women champion other women. As people, we all need to be attuned to the issues faced by one another and work together to rectify them. I feel proud to work in a business that aims to tackle the challenges faced by women in the workforce, such as receiving equal pay for equal work and also creating a flexible work environment. However, does this mean we’re perfect? Absolutely not – we still have a way to go. But I’m encouraged by everyone’s collective awareness on how important it is to create a society that is striving towards equality, because equality benefits everyone, not just women.