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Over the recent few years, world has witnessed biggest recession in almost a century. Thus, it's clear that its recovery would among other measures; require best of talent, ideologies and innovation. It is thus; more essential than earlier for nations and companies to pay attention to one of the basic cornerstones of economic development to them which is the skills and talent of their female human resources. From being customers to voters, employees and employers, women play an important part of the global economic recovery. Even as, it is not just limited to financial and economic system which is requirement of restructuring, rethinking and reforming. Women make up of almost half the population and without their engagement, empowerment and involvement one cannot expect to efficiently meet these recent challenges nor attain rapid economic recovery. The global gap between men and women still persists as there is still a lot of efforts to be taken in terms of education, health, legislations and politics before women can be able counted in power with men. With the help of Global Gender Gap Reports, for the last four years, the World Economic Forum has been able to quantify magnitude of gender-based disparities and has been tracking its progress over the years. This report has provided a comprehensive framework for being able to benchmark global gender gaps. It reveals that the countries which are role models who have effectively divided resources between women and men. According to Global Gender GAP report till date, some of the multi-stakeholder communities of very influential leaders comprising of 50% women and 50% men from politics, business, academia, media and civil society have mutually recognized the largest gaps in every region have committed to improve and enhance use of female talent through their strategies. Every individual in the organization has collectively agreed to empower women, developing globally replicable frameworks and bridging the gap in the world and achieving gender parity.
There are different views and perspectives through gender empowerment and equality is an important issue to be addressed to economically and optimally utilize human resources. From values and social justice point of view, empowerment of women and providing them with equal rights and opportunities for fulfillment of their capabilities has been due for a long time. From the business, economic and competitiveness point of view, aiming at gender parity is an essential requirement for progress.
Measuring the Global Gender Gap
The World Economic Forum introduced Global Gender Gap Index in the year 2006 which is framework to capture the magnitude and scope of gender based disparities and to constantly track the progress. This index is a standard for national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health based criteria and offers individual nation rankings which provide efficient comparisons across regions in the world. The main focus of the rankings is creating awareness amongst the people across the globe of the challenges posed due to gender gaps and chances created by decreasing them. It is a straightforward method and quantitative analysis behind the rankings which serve as a base for designing efficient measures to decrease gender gaps. Basically there are three concepts which underline the Global Gender Gap Index. Firstly, it concentrates on measurement of gaps instead of levels. Secondly, it captures gaps in terms of outcome variables instead of gaps in means or input variables. Thirdly, it ranks individual country as per the gender equality instead of women's empowerment.
Gaps vs. Levels
The Gap index is designed to quantify gender-related gaps in access to resources and opportunities in individual nations instead of the actual levels of available resources and opportunities in those nations. The index is constructed to rank nations on their gender gaps and not on the development levels. Rich nations have more opportunities in terms of education and health for the society but it does not relate to gender-related issues being faced by every nation at their individual level of income.
Outcomes vs. Means
The second fundamental concept which underlies the Global Gender Gap Index is that it accesses nations based upon the outcome variables instead of their input measures. The main focus of the index is a snapshot of where a man and woman stand in respect to some basic outcome variables associated to fundamental rights like health, education, economic participation and political empowerment.
Gender equality vs. Women's empowerment
The third feature of the gap index is that the ranking of nations is in accordance to their propinquity to gender equality instead of women's empowerment. The main focus here is on whether the gap between women and men in the selected variables is declined, rather than whether women are "winning battle of sexes".
Gender Inequality at workplace
The most prevalent issue being faced among the UK workforce is inequality in the workplace since the beginning of the 21st century. Women have remained well below men in the terms of income due to latent prejudices related to sexuality in the modern British workplace, leading to major hurdle to greater political and cultural integration of the society. Companies today have to adhere to the most relevant legislation for the development of their business and for the society on the whole. The public sector is able to depend on the Government for funding while private sector businesses have no such kind of fiscal safety and are aware that their profit and loss are totally dependent on their optimal utilization of resources which include human resources as well.
The most significant indicator of a country's competitiveness is in its human talent which includes the skills, education and productivity of its workforce. Similar is the case in terms of a company wherein the employee's talent is their pillar. In most of the developed world, women currently account for over half of the college and university graduates and in a lot of emerging economies, gender gaps in higher education decreasing at a fast rate. Women therefore consist of an impressive portion of the talent pool available to businesses presently. Over a period of time, a country's competitiveness greatly depends on whether and to what extent the female talent is utilized. To maximize its effectiveness and competitiveness and development potential, every company must to strive to achieve gender equality which means give the women employees same rights, responsibility and pay as the men for the same work. The government plays a vital role in helping to create the correct environment for enhancing women's economic participation, especially through flexible maternity leave policies and childcare provision. Also, it is of primary importance for companies to create ecosystems where the best talent including male and female can flourish.
The subsequent examination into inequality at workplace should essentially adopt dualistic approach, by tracing both cause and effect of the issues of workplace gender inequality. This would involve comprehensive analysis of legislation, most suitable practice and human resources. Human Resource managers have become to comply within new legislations which prevent any kind of discrimination of the basis of gender discrimination which include Equal Pay Act, 1970.
Equal Pay Act 1970
The Equal Pay Act, 1970 refers that people must be paid equally or same regardless of their gender. It means an employee cannot be paid less than somebody else of the opposite sex for doing:
The same work or identical work (legally known as "like work".
Different work which is of equal worth to the employer (also known as "work of equal value")
Pay Discrimination at Workplace
There are many ways in which pay discrimination can take place, examples of this include:
Women being appointed on lower pay rate than her male counterparts.
Women on maternity leave are not given bonus received by other employees.
Women's jobs are offered different job titles and grades in comparison to men doing similar type of work.
Part-time employees, generally women, have no holiday or sick pay entitlements.
Major companies across globe are recognizing the needs to identify potential and capabilities of women and are coming forward with equal opportunities at workplace to ensure this gender gap reduces across the globe. It is the need of the hour for Human Resource Managers to identify and recognize talents and skills based on capability of the individual irrespective of the gender for long term growth and development of the company. With a number of laws and legislations allowing women to have equal opportunities at the workplace, Human Resources managers in the companies must respect and comply within the rules framework to enhance the goodwill of the company. Goodwill of the company plays an essential role in the development of the business in the society and any kind of negative publicity such gender discrimination would lead to the downfall of its market value. Thus, most of the companies are becoming socially responsible to ensure their reputation and goodwill is maintained in the corporate world. To illustrate, some policies companies have undertaken to promote equal opportunities for its staff let us briefly look at Marks and Spencer's company policies.
The company policy of Equal treatment for everyone states to encourage a working environment free from any kind of discrimination, victimization and harassment; making sure that everybody receives equal treatment in every aspect of employment policies and practices irrespective of their gender, age, marital status or hours of work; employing a workforce that reflects a diverse community serving and maximizing personal and commercial opportunities; constantly monitoring and reporting the composition of the Company's workforce and reviewing changes in attitude and implementation of Company policy and finally complying within the framework of legislation and rules of the government.
Women are a major part of the human resource of an economy and a company and thus their empowerment and development is essential for the development of the economy. Several studies have confirmed that decreasing gender inequality improves productivity and economic development and that the economic advantages of reducing back barriers to women's engagement in the workforce could be substantial. To illustrate, according to a research conducted recently, decreasing the male-female employment gap will have tremendous economic implications for developed economies boosting US GDP by about 9%, eurozone GDP by 13% and Japanese GDP by 16%. Decreasing the gender inequality in these nations could also play a vital role in addressing the future issues posed due to ageing population and increasing pension burdens. This means that companies would benefit from successfully integrating the female half of the available talent across their internal leadership structures. The studies which explored this aspect have displayed a positive correlation among gender diversity on top leadership teams and a company's financial results.
However, regardless of increasing evidence in relation to the significance of women's economic integration and even when the global economy's dependence on knowledge industries and skillful workers increases, there still a lot of significant gaps in the job opportunities available to women and in regards to wages paid to women compared with the male colleagues. Talent and human capital are the essentials for economic growth and development and business leaders and policymakers should ensure that any kind of barriers to women's entry to the mainstream workforce are eradicated and that equal chance and opportunity rising to positions of leadership are offered within the companies. They are important factors for determining that companies and economy on the whole is utilizing its existing resources in most efficient and effective manner and also encouraging flow of talent in the future as well.