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In recent years, the problem of gender inequality has once again become a popular issue discussed in our society. The me too and other movements are using social networks to get the public’s attention and raise awareness about this pressing issue. While western society has made a lot of progress in addressing the problem of gender inequality, we still have a long way to go. Gender equality in the workplace has always been one of the central issues connected to this discussion. Even though women are now free to work and earn their living independently of their male counterparts, they generally still face many problems at the workplace. The discriminatory treatment of women in this area is not only harmful to the women involved. It also hurts the companies that engage in it and society as a whole. Recent reports have shown that companies that encourage and allow discriminatory practices do worse when compared to companies that provide equal working conditions. The example of Nordic countries has a lot to teach Western society about the advantages of gender equality in the workplace.
After looking at 2,400 companies, a 2012 study by Credit Suisse Research Institute has found that big companies (whose worth exceeds $5 billion) that have at least one woman on the board of directors performed better than their rivals by 26% over a period of six years (Credit Suisse 2012). These results should be of significant interest both to the companies and the potential investors. Seeing that the study had been done over a long period of time, as well as that it included several thousand companies, the result are clear. While this particular study focused on the benefits of having women workers at important positions, there are good arguments for having a diverse workforce at all levels of the company.
Gender equality is one of the most important issues for the new generation of workers. In fact, The Atlantic has reported that one of the beliefs that would have the most impact on western society was the Millennial’s belief about gender equality (Winograd and Hais 2013). Seeing that the Millennials are a new generation of workers, their attitude toward the question of gender equality is of great significance to employers. When choosing between two companies that are similar, the company with progressive policies with regards to the issue of gender equality will more easily attract potential workers. What is even more important, the same logic can be applied to customers as well.
The way companies represent themselves in the world is extremely important today. Certain campaigns and marketing strategies can be very important to how the company is seen. One of the things that consumers value the most is transparency. While almost all brands will claim that they support gender equality, not many will actually do it in practice. The ones that actually implement the policies that transform their work environments will be sure to get the trust and loyalty of their customers. Therefore, working towards gender equality is not just a question of doing the right thing. Doing so is necessary if companies want to stay relevant and competitive in today’s world.
So far we have examined the benefits of gender equality in the workplace. Now, we will take a look at some of the countries that have done the most in the way of providing an equal opportunities to both men and women. Before examining what these countries have done to close the gender gap, however, we will first look at some data that shows how these changes have helped them. Firstly, having family-friendly policies has had the effect of Nordic countries having the highest female workforce participation in the world. While this is great news in itself, the will to close the gender gap also benefited these countries economically. Having more women workers then in other countries has led to a raise in the GDP per capita by 10 to 20% in the last 50 years (Zalis 2018). Once again, we see that gender equality in the workplace is not just a social and moral issue but also an economic one.
One of the biggest issues when it comes to gender equality is the wage gap. Iceland is the first country that actively tried (and succeeded) to solve this problem by making it illegal to pay men and women unequally for the same work. The law itself requires companies with more than 25 workers to prove that they provide equal pay for all their workers, regardless of their gender (Zalis 2018). The result was a huge decrease in the gender wage gap. For comparison, women in America make 20% less than men. In Iceland, this gap has been reduced to 5.7% (Zalis 2018). We can assume that it will be decreased even further as the law starts to be enforced.
Another important issue connected with gender equality is paid parental leave. In this respect, Norway proves to be a country to look up to. This Nordic country has its parental leave split into three parts: maternity leave, paternity leave and shared leave. In Norway, both mothers and fathers have a paid mandatory leave of 15 weeks (Zalis 2018). Again, for the sake of comparison, the United States still does not have mandatory parental leave. Even the adopted parents are granted this right. The benefits of this policy are obvious. Women are no longer forced to choose between having children and pursuing their professional careers. Additionally, fathers are also given the benefit of taking a leave, which is the mark of a truly equal society.
Credit Suisse is a multinational investment bank and financial services company based in Switzerland. Their research institute is a credible source of information for the issue discussed in this paper. Seeing that this paper mainly focuses on the economic benefits of closing the gender gap, this credible source provides relevant data that makes the essay’s arguments stronger.
The Atlantic is an American magazine with a long tradition and a reputation for honest reporting. I found that the particular article I have cited in this paper serves the purpose of showing the changing attitudes toward gender equality. The authors write about the Millennials’ belief in the importance of social issues and gender equality in particular. The part of the essay where I cited the article examines the economic benefits companies could get if they closed the gender gap.
The third source used in writing the essay is once again from a trusted publication. Seeing that Forbes’s primary focus is on business, it makes sense to use one of its articles in an essay that reports on gender equality in the workplace. Zalis’ article provided a brief history of the benefits that Nordic countries have gotten from enacting family-friendly laws. It was extremely useful for the research of this paper.
Rather than focusing on presenting all the ways in which women are discriminated against, we have examined the potential benefits of ending the discrimination. Throughout this paper, we have tried to show that equality in the workplace is not just a social issue but also one of economics. We have cited studies that prove this but also provided examples of entire societies that have benefited from closing the gender gap. To conclude, equal opportunity for both men and women is a necessary step towards progress.
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