The second historic women’s strike took place in Switzerland a year ago today. What has happened since then? A lot in politics, not much in business. An interim look with a suggestion for a solution.
On Friday, 14 June 2019, more than 500,000 women (and a number of men) took to the streets in Switzerland to protest for equality in politics, business and society. This was the second country-wide march after 1991, and it was even louder, more colourful and more vehement. Which makes it even more surprising when considering what did (not) come of it.
Let’s take a look at last year’s Global Gender Gap Report. This report is an annual assessment of global equality in economics, education, political empowerment and health. Of the 153 countries that are benchmarked, Switzerland was ranked 20th, Germany 14th and Austria 53rd. All three countries have improved since then, according to the latest edition of the report. Switzerland climbed two places, while Germany improved by four and Austria by a staggering 19 places. Iceland continues to hold the top ranking.
Still few women in top executive positions
If one takes a closer look at the report, it becomes clear that these improvements are largely the result of increased representation of women in government. In Switzerland, for example, the percentage of women in the National Council in the Swiss elections in October 2019 rose from 32% to 42%. In Germany, 40% of ministerial positions in the federal and state governments are now held by women.
This development is in stark contrast to the figures in economic participation, where the difference is still striking. Men in the EU continue to earn an average of 16% more than women, whereby this figure increases in higher positions. The share of women in leadership positions remains low. In administrative and supervisory boards, for example, this share is 21.3% in Switzerland, 31.9% in Germany and 19.2% in Austria.
While we removed any wage disparities between men and women in similar positions at Trivadis on 1 June 2019, there is still room for improvement in the percentage of women in executive positions – even if these figures are also on the rise.
Getting men involved
These figures and their development in the past years show that previous efforts such as combining having a family and having a career are clearly only shaking up the status quo a bit. This naturally begs the question why.
Why is it so tough to make progress in economic participation?
Maybe this is due to the fact that we still tend to see equality as a “women’s issue” in a lot of places – this is true for women as well as men, and we are not immune to this at Trivadis either. And since our male colleagues continue to make up the larger share in executive positions especially, then why don’t we call for and encourage their active support more in terms of equality? A quick search on LinkedIn shows that equal opportunities officers are, with a few exceptions, women. Considering the stagnating development in economic participation, it might be advisable for companies to build mixed teams.
And finally, as I mentioned in my last article about the women’s strike: We need everyone in order to achieve equality. If we keep going the way things are going, according to the Global Gender Gap Report, it will take 95.5 to achieve this. We can speed things up by getting everyone on board.