May 6, 2021

Gender inequality most evident in future jobs, says WEF

genderparity
Equality
WorldEconomicForum
womenworkplace
Kate Birch
4 min
The pandemic has impacted gender equality, with women losing jobs at higher rates and  gender gaps most prominent in jobs of the future, reports WEF
The pandemic has impacted gender equality, with women losing jobs at higher rates and gender gaps most prominent in jobs of the future, reports WEF...

When it comes to gender parity and the future of work, the pandemic has lengthened the gender gap by a further 36 years and made it more difficult for women to get jobs due to post-pandemic roles being ones wheere women are traditionally under-represented. 

The pandemic it seems has an impact on women in work worldwide, according to World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the 15th edition, which finds that closing the gender gap has increased by a generation (36 years) from 99.5 years in 2020 to 135.6 years in 2021. 

Pandemic has worsened work for women

Despite progress in education and health, women face economic hurdles and workplace challenges in particular, with the economic gender gap set to take another 267.6 years to close, according to the report, as progress towards gender parity has stalled in a number of large economies and industries, partly due to women being more frequently employed in sectors hardest hit by lockdowns combined with the added pressures of caregiving at home. 

“The pandemic has fundamentally impacted gender equality in both workplace and the home, rolling back years of progress,” says Saadia Zahidi, MD, World Economic Forum. “If we want a dynamic future economy, it is vital for women to be represented in the jobs of tomorrow.”

Firstly, women are losing jobs at higher rates than men (5% versus 3.9%), partly down to women have a bigger representation in sectors more directly disrupted by the pandemic, like the consumer sector. Added to this, Ipsos survey data reveals that housework and childcare fell disproportionately on women. 

Secondly, as the job market recovers, women are being hired at a slower rate across multiple industries, according to LinkedIn data discovering that as the job market recovers, women are being hired at a slower rate in multiple industries and are also less likely to be hired for leadership roles, resulting in a reversal of up to two years’ progress. 

More difficult for women to switch to emerging roles

One of the worrying parts of the research, however, is the difficulty women face in switching to the jobs that have emerged post-pandemic as the jobs of tomorrow, jobs where women are already currently under-represented. In fact, only two of the eight tracked ‘jobs of tomorrow’ clusters – People & Culture and Content Production – have reached gender parity, with most delivering a severe under-representation of women. 

Gender gaps are more likely in sectors that require disruptive technical skills like cloud computing, where women currently make up just 14% of the workforce, and where research suggests the job-switching gap is 58%. In engineering too, women make up just 20% with the job-switching gap at 42%. 

This combined effect of accelerated automation, the growing ‘double shift’ and other labour market dynamics like occupational segregation, the pandemic is likely to have a scarring effect on future economic opportunities for women.

“Women aren’t well represented in the majority of fast-growing roles, which means we are storing up even bigger gender representation problems as we emerge from the pandemic,” says Sue Duke, head of Global Public Policy at LinkedIn. 

Duke points to such roles as playing a significant part in shaping all aspects of technology and asserts that women’s voices and perspectives need to represented at this “foundational stage, especially as digitisation is accelerating”. 

So, what can companies do about it?

The good news is that gender-positive recovery policies and practices can tackle the potential challenges. And now, as we emerge from the pandemic, is the opportune time to embed gender parity by design, according to Zahidi, who says that now, more than ever, it’s crucial to focus “leadership attention, commit to firm targets and mobilise resources”. 

Duke advises companies to build diversity, equity and inclusion into their plans for recovery. “assessing candidates on their skills and potential, and not just their direct work experience and formal qualifications, is central to that,” she says, adding that “skills-based hiring is key if we’re going to make our economics and societies more inclusive”.

The report recommends increased investment into the care sector and into more equal access to care leave for men and wome, policies and practices that proactively focus on overcoming occupational segregation by gender, effective mid-career skills-development policies for women and managerial practices that embed sound, unbiased hiring and promotion practices. 

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Jun 6, 2021

Business Chief Legend: Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo
businesslegend
Leadership
CEO
Kate Birch
4 min
As the first and only female CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi smashed corporate America’s glass ceiling and transformed the performance and purpose of PepsiCo

At a recent Asia Pacific-focused event, organised by P&G and UN Women, the former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, shared why enabling a diverse and inclusive workforce can directly impact the bottom line.

“If 80% of our products are bought by women because they were the gatekeepers at home, or make all the purchases, why don’t we have a large number of women represented in our ranks,” she told a virtual global crowd of thousands. 

Such business advice may seem rather obvious today, but in 2006, when Nooyi put this business philosophy into practice at PepsiCo, it was both pioneering and progressive. Because not only did the performance of PepsiCo transform under Nooyi’s 12-year tenure as CEO, but so did its purpose and people, with Nooyi widely praised for transforming the firm’s diversity and inclusion agenda.

And who better to do so than someone who had herself smashed the corporate American glass ceiling. Because, when Nooyi became CEO in 2006, following 12 years as Chief Strategist, not only was she among just a handful of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 firms, and one of very few foreign-born executives, she was both the first female CEO to lead PepsiCo, and the first person of colour. Not to mention also being a wife and mother.

Proving performance and purpose can co-exist

And she more than got the job done, growing PepsiCo revenues by 80%, making the firm more global than it had ever been, so that by the time she stepped down in 2018, nearly 20% of net revenues came from MENA, Asia and Latin America, and expanding the business significantly with key acquisitions (Tropicana) and mergers (Quaker Oats).

But it was Nooyi’s strategic redirection of PepsiCo, transforming both its purpose and people, that really made an impact. As chief architect of PepsiCo’s pledge, Performance with Purpose, unveiled in 2006 and a precursor to the modern sustainability movement, Nooyi repositioned the firm to focus on what is best for the world and for its people, from sustainability and social responsibility to diversity and diet.

She transformed the firm’s D&I agenda, created a culture where workers were encouraged to stay with the company, moved corporate spending away from junk food and into healthier alternatives, redesigned packaging to reduce waste, and switched to renewable energy sources and recycling.

As she told Forbes in 2017, “I wanted to make sure that PepsiCo was not only delivering top-tier financial returns but doing so in a way that was responsive to the needs of the world around us.”

Indra Nooyi talking with US President Biden (then Vice President) in 2014

Smashing corporate America's glass ceiling

And it was this ability to realise a world in which business is both practiced and recognised as a force for good that has earned Nooyi a place in CEO history books and landed her numerous accolades, including 11 honorary degrees, the Hero of Conscious Capitalism award at 2017’s CEO Summit, consistent inclusion in the world’s 100 most powerful women (including #1 by Forbes in 2009/10) and most recently, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Not bad for a girl from Chennai, India, who was expected to lead a conventional life as a wife and mother, but by her own admission was a bit of a “rebel”, with a passion for playing cricket and lead guitarist in a band. In the late 70s, she relocated to the US, earning herself a Master’s in management from Yale, and beginning a four decade-long strategy-focused career that was born at BCG in 1980 where she spent six years and ended in 2018 following 24 impactful years at PepsiCo.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family. 

Indra Nooyi's memoir will be available from September 28, 2021, and can be pre-ordered. 

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