Getting Real About Gender Equality. Don’t Miss Our Davos Breakfast on January 21.

If you’ve read the new Gender Gap Report 2020 issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF), you already know the news isn’t great on gender equality.

It’s tempting to feel pessimistic. Instead, we are channeling our energy into renewed hope and positive motivation at our Davos breakfast on January 21. We’re gathering business leaders from around the globe to discuss how they are meeting the challenges of gender equity.  Our hope is that you walk away with some ideas and enthusiasm as you move forward on closing the gender gap in your own organization.

The WEF Gender Gap Report 2020 revealed mixed results. While we are doing a better job of educating our women and making sure that they are healthy, our progress on economic parity for women is still slipping. Even a modest uptick in overall parity can’t change the reality that we’re still 99.5 years — a lifetime — away from true gender parity. 

But there is cause for hope. One of the hidden takeaways from that report is the impact of leadership —and in particular women’s leadership — on progress toward gender equality. This “role model effect” has the power to increase both participation and wages. The impact of passionate leadership and advocacy on the quest for gender parity cannot be underestimated.

The state of families, global business and economies depends on the state of women’s equity. Pursuing sustainable gender equity in organizations isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a long and sometimes difficult road. We aren’t nearly far enough along it, but we should acknowledge that we’ve already come a long way. We’ve made tremendous progress for women in leadership, even in the past decade.

It’s important for us to take some time to understand what we are doing that is working — and come together to explore and honestly share ideas on surmounting the barriers that still remain.

In this year’s Mercer-sponsored Davos breakfast, we will be calling on some of those role models and advocates — both female and male — to share what they see as the most systemic barriers to gender parity, and have a frank conversation on how they are confronting them in their own businesses and lives.

Our panels will focus on how men and women in business can work to increase equity, accountability and transparency, along with thinking more deeply about women’s health, financial wellness and caregiving. We’re pleased to have so much representation on our panel from some truly inspiring women leaders.

At the breakfast, we will also preview key findings from our new When Women Thrive research, which will be released in March. This report, which spans 1,157 global companies representing more than 6.5 million employees, follows up on the seminal data we gathered five years ago on labor force participation and pay equity, both measuring progress and identifying opportunities for the next five years.

I’m particularly excited about this new data, because for the first time we are seeing the issue of gender parity going viral and global. Around the world, countries are showing engagement and participation on this topic. From Nigeria, to Ethiopia, to the Nordics, to Chile — the pursuit of gender equality has become a global economic and social phenomenon.

In our Davos session, we will share some data on the state of women in organizations globally what is moving the needle on gender equity in business — in areas such as leadership, accountability, certification and measurement — including how companies are making progress in hiring, promoting and retaining workers through the lens of both gender and race.

Culture change is led from the top. Passion, motivation and interest are high right now, and leaders do feel like they are taking action — but many organizations are still lacking ways to leverage a mix of both individual and organizational action and turn that action into sustainable progress on equity.

That kind of change can only happen if great companies take the lead. That’s where your participation comes in. This breakfast will bring together passionate leaders with a personal commitment to gender equity — capable of sparking change — including you. 

Joining me, along with Mercer President and CEO Martine Ferland, to explore these topics are a panel of distinguished guests, including:

  • Sheri Bronstein, Chief Human Resources Officer, Bank of America
  • Larry Meixner, Managing Corporate Executive Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, and Chief Technology Officer, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation
  • Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer, Unilever
  • Olivia Ross-Wilson, Chief Communication Officer, IKEA Retail (Ingka Group)
  • Paula Santilli, Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo Latin America
  • Aniela Unguresan, Co-founder, EDGE Certified Foundation

You can register for the session here.

Our goal is that through the panel discussions and our always lively Q&A, you will leave this breakfast with renewed hope, optimism and ideas from other leaders that inspire you as you tackle the very real work of closing the gender gap in 2020 and beyond.

If you are not attending the WEF Annual Meeting, you can follow the conversation on social media with the #WhenWomenThrive and on our event webpage.

Will you join us? 

Pat Milligan
Pat Milligan

Senior Partner, Global Leader, When Women Thrive, Mercer

Global Leader, Multinational Client Group & When Women Thrive