Women’s voices: numbers that can’t be ignored

According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Report 2017 the equity disparity across health, education, politics and the workplace is actually widening for the first time since records began in 2006.

Women are underrepresented in almost every sector of society. From business, to the press, to leadership in politics and the media – women are still - in many cases- relegated to a second class all over the world.

How can this be in a year of #MeToo, #TimesUp and at least a half century of raising awareness of the gender gap? Progress is being made too slowly and, if bold action is not taken now, numerous studies suggest it will be 100 years before full equality comes about.

Opportunities do exist

McKinsey & Company for example, long known for their documentation and studies of inequity against women in the workplace, recently missed an opportunity to appoint a woman as its new global managing partner and instead chose Kevin Sneader, a Brit born in Scotland. Only one woman out of 560 senior partners was even in contention for the position.

Study after study tells us that women are the largest economic market on the planet, and by including women in business and leadership roles, trillions of dollars will be added to bottom lines across the world.

To be fair, we are starting to see the acceptance of the role of women leaders and sparks of change at the highest levels. This year, for the first time in the 48-year history of the World Economic Forum, the summit was chaired entirely by women, a long overdue step. However, the “Davos Men” still dominated the attendee list, with only about 25% of WEF’s speakers being women. At important gatherings like this, we must prioritize gender parity in keynotes and panels as the norm and as a true representation of the global population.

And yet, even small bits of progress are overshadowed by glaring examples of a lack of diversity and the inclusion of women’s voices in thought leadership and programming.

It’s time to value women’s voices at every stage of a career and give them a seat on the stage.

A remarkable transformation

We believe places where thought leadership and ideas are exchanged, should feature and support gender equality. It matters who is in the pipeline, in the c-suite and on the stage, and our choices should lead by example.

In this spirit, we’re seeing a remarkable transformation at diplomatic institutions. The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres actively recruited women to top leadership positions - even going beyond parity with 23 women and 21 men in the most coveted roles. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the new Director General of the World Health Organization, chose a new leadership team of more than 60% women from 14 countries when he took office.

It matters whose voices are heard. Being known, being seen, being heard is power. And that power is even stronger when women can help amplify other women’s voices.

The promise of tomorrow depends on investing in women’s voices today and every day.


Joy DiBenedetto, Maria Ebrahimji, Lori Levin and Nicole Schiegg (Founders and Managing Partners of C5 Collective).