Gender diversity and equality is the engine of the future global workforce. McKinsey’s & Company’s 2020 report “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters” found the business case for gender diversity at work remains strong, and the relationship between diversity in leadership and the probability of financial outperformance only continues to increase over time.
Kinsta sales development manager Katalin Juhász says, "Gender, I think, is an important part of everyone’s life; it defines us, it’s essential, and it’s a huge part of our personality. It should not be suppressed but celebrated. Respect, dignity, and diversity always come to me when I hear the expression ‘gender equality.’ Gender and gender equality are not something that should be defined along constraints or barriers, and that’s why I think the concept of gender equality is an amazing idea, but generally, there’s still a long way for us to go, learn and evolve."
Juhász is right—there is a long way to go. Although we witnessed a record-high number of Fortune 500 women CEOs in 2021, there are still more than 10 times as many companies run by men than women, and gender discrimination at work remains a constant reality. Let’s take a look at why gender diversity at work is more important now than ever in order to set ourselves up for an inclusive, profitable, and innovative future of work.
18 reasons gender diversity at work is more important than ever
1. Gender diverse teams are more creative
Diversity begets creativity, and research has proven time and time again that diverse teams develop more innovative ideas. Leaders who give voices of diverse backgrounds and experiences equal airtime are almost twice as likely to uncover value-driving insights. And when diversity is lacking in leadership, women are 20 percent less likely to win endorsement for their ideas, costing companies creative opportunities.
2. Gender diversity attracts top women talent to your company
Creating a gender diverse team and inclusive environment affects who will want to apply to your company—especially women. A recent survey found that 61 percent of women look at the gender diversity of the employer’s leadership team when deciding where to work. So, when you have more women in leadership, you hire more top women talent, and the cycle continues, helping more and more women advance in the workplace.
3. Having more women on your team can reduce microaggressions
Senior-level women are almost twice as likely to be “onlys'' at work, and women who are “the onlys” in their workplace are more likely to feel pressured to work more and more likely to experience microaggressions. But women leaders are more likely than male leaders to enlist their peers in racial equality efforts and actively listen to the personal stories from women of color about bias and mistreatment. When microaggressions drive women out of the workforce, it leaves less and less women in the workplace, creating a vicious cycle, so it’s important to retain women in leadership positions.
4. Gender diversity at work improves customers’ experiences
Research shows that teams that have one or more members who represent the gender, ethnicity, generation, or sexual orientation of a customer target market are about 158 percent more likely to innovate effectively for that end user. And since women control 51 percent of U.S. wealth and either directly make or influence up to 80 percent of all purchases, it’s a huge advantage to have more women weigh in on customer experiences from the top.
5. Gender diversity makes teams more profitable
Over the past few years, several studies have shown a link between gender diversity and profitability. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability, and both company profits and share performance can be almost 50 percent higher when women are well represented at the top. AKA, when your company is more gender diverse at the top, you’ll be better off financially.
6. Women leaders create inclusive company cultures
In partnership with LeanIn.org, McKinsey’s 2020 Women in the Workplace study shows women leaders are more likely to adopt employee-friendly policies and programs and make racial and gender diversity a top priority. The study found that more than 50 percent of senior-level women say they consistently take a public stand for gender and racial equity at work.
7. When women leave the workforce, the economy is negatively affected
In 2020, women lost more than 64 million jobs globally due to the pandemic and the pandemic cost women around the world at least $800 billion in lost income, equivalent to more than the combined GDP of 98 countries. And when women leave the workforce, the future of companies, their leadership pipelines, and the overall economy are affected.
"Women are half of the economy and half of the workforce, so [when] women exit the workforce there's a devastating ripple effect on businesses, lost productivity and the economy," says C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive of the Institute for Women's Policy Research. "And also for women, it directly impacts their career mobility and long-term earnings and can hinder their advancement."
8. Women leaders are shown to perform better in crisis leadership
Research proves women leaders perform better in situations that require crisis leadership. This stat is especially timely, since we’re, uh, still navigating our way through a global pandemic. One study found that outcomes related to COVID19, including number of cases and deaths, were systematically better in countries led by women and another study found that states with women leaders had lower fatality rates.
9. Gender diversity at work inspires other women to achieve their goals
Gender diversity and representation matters greatly to working women. Our data shows that 84 percent of women say it’s important or very important to see women filling leadership roles where they work, 78 percent of women say it’s important or very important to see women performing the same work as them, and 54 percent of women say they have a woman role model at work. Essentially, a woman’s ability to picture herself as a leader is affected by whether she sees other women in similar positions.
10. Bro culture causes toxic work environments
According to the 2021 Women in Tech Report by TrustRadius, bro culture is rife in tech companies, with 72 percent of women in tech reporting having “worked at a company where bro culture is pervasive.” At security solutions company Verkada, current and former employees said “that the inattention to data protection was emblematic of a larger ‘bro culture’ that was sophomoric and sales-obsessed, and which tolerated the harassment of women, frequent partying, and misleading marketing claims.” To eradicate bro culture, promote gender diversity, and prevent assimilation into toxic environments, more women need to be hired and promoted in male-dominated fields like tech.
11. Working moms are extremely productive
A recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that over the course of a 30-year career, working mothers outperformed women without children at almost every stage of their careers, and mothers with at least two kids were the most productive of all. So, leaders, this is your sign to hire and retain working moms if you want to build a productive, dedicated workforce.
12. Women are empathetic leaders
According to a 2020 Workplace Empathy Study, 90 percent of employees, CEOs, and human resources professionals say empathy is important in the workplace, and 83 percent said they would leave their organization for a similar role at another company that exercised more empathy. Plus, a study showed that leaders who are more empathetic tend to have followers who experience less stress and physical symptoms. Since 59 percent of adults say women business leaders do a better job at being compassionate and empathetic, ensuring that your team has women at the top will benefit everyone.
13. Gender diversity at work improves your overall reputation
Having an inclusive and gender diverse workplace is a powerful reputation tool. Research has found that employees prefer diverse work environments, and 67 percent of job seekers look at workforce diversity when evaluating a job offer. The most talented professionals go to places that do better with gender diversity, so if your company has positive employee reviews in that area, you’re more likely to receive applications from open-minded individuals.
14. Gender diversity is a positive sign for investors
Harvard Business Review says that investors value when firms use commonly accepted “best practices,” like prioritizing gender diversity in hiring, and they penalize those that break or don’t follow these norms. Other research has shown that stock prices surge after firms win an award related to diversity initiatives, a huge plus for investors.
15. Gender diversity will retain the future of workplace leadership—millennials
By 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials, meaning this group will be making most of the important decisions that’ll affect workplace cultures for years to come. Research shows that 74 percent of millennials believe that their company is more innovative when it has an inclusive culture, so diversity must be at the forefront of company cultures now if organizations want to set themselves up for an innovative, prosperous future with millennial leaders.
16. Gender equality would benefit the global economy
In addition to gender diversity, gender equality and equal pay would benefit the global economy in an extreme way. It’s estimated that closing the gender pay gap would add $28 trillion to the value of the global economy by 2025, a 26 percent increase.
17. Gender diversity at work creates a sense of belonging
When women see other women on their team, especially at the top, they’re more likely to feel like they “belong” and are contributing in a valuable way. Research by the career development and coaching firm BetterUp shows that “high belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days. For a 10,000-person company, this would result in annual savings of more than $52M.”
18. Women are better able to multitask
Medical journal BMC Psychology found that on average, women are able to switch between different tasks at an 8 percent greater speed than their male counterparts. The coauthor of the study, Dr. Gijsbert Stoet, noted that the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities is especially relevant in today’s modern digital workplace, meaning that a gender diverse team is able to complete tasks faster.