Industry Chats: Diversity and Gender Equality
Inclusion and fair representation are important for all industries. In any industry, diversity is about the variety of people that work and contribute to its development. While diversity itself has many dimensions, we will today look at the first: the gender.
Coming from a Swedish background (Tradedoubler was founded in Sweden, 1999) gender equality is a natural trait in our day to day business. According to the Global Gender Gap Index of 2020 Sweden is on the list of the top 5 countries closest to achieving gender equality.
At Tradedoubler, gender equality is a topic close to our hearts. The majority of our workforce are women (56%) and 50% of our management is female. We are proud of where we are and we constantly educate and improve ourselves. That is why we wanted to shed further light on such an important topic by talking to Carol Spendilow.
Our expert of this issue: Carol Spendilow – Reach Group
Let us introduce to you Carol Spendilow, one of three founders of Reach Group, a network of freelance legal counsels. Reach Group leverages the full breadth of its business law expertise. From legal advice to business development, strategy, and leadership. Carol also has her own consulting firm providing inhouse legal counsel services.
We have discussed the importance of gender equality, the benefits it brings to the workplace and what all companies should focus on.
What does diversity mean to you?
I remember when I worked at Tradedoubler in London, I was astonished that there were so many different nationalities working. To me, that is what diversity is all about: when you have different cultural backgrounds, genders, and people with different backgrounds, competences and traits. But still, diversity is a struggle these days in a lot of industries. It is something everyone needs to be aware of and actively work on.
Speaking of the dimension of gender: Gender equality was and is a very important topic for me, my interest developed at an early age as my mother always had strong opinions on the matter, which we discussed a lot when I grew up. She thought me important lessons on independence, strength, the value of education and so on. Gender equality is not only about equal pay – it is about equal treatment, equal representations in leadership teams and equal access to training.
It is great to see how far we already have come. But still, there are a lot of hurdles for women in their professional lifes and at some point, they notice, that they cannot reach the top in the way they had hoped for. A phenomenon called the glass ceiling. Obviously, the height of the ceiling varies in different companies, but they do still exist.
How are companies impacted by their own culture and policies regarding gender equality?
Gender equality is a part of a companies’ culture and policies itself. Company culture forms the basis of behaviour at all levels within the company. Gender equality needs to be an initiative that is prioritized by the top management. It should be operationalized in the sense that you recruit and hire for gender.
When women are given access to opportunities for career growth, they can make a huge impact on their company. But to get the job is a different topic – that is about the recruitment process. It starts at the beginning and as easy as it might sound, people recruit people who resemble themselves. Although, then you have clones instead of variety.
But it is not only about the operationalisation, it is as well about measuring your efforts. Companies should look at their numbers, take actions from it and create a working environment that supports gender equality.
Diversity and inclusion are essential for businesses to prosper, and if you aren’t sure how to integrate this in your business, seek the expertise and guidance of a consultant that can help you adapt your brand strategies accordingly.
Actually, businesses that support gender equality tend to make better business decisions. According to Forbes, gender diverse teams make better business decisions 73% of the time. A study from McKinsey even proved that organizations with greater diversity among their executive teams tend to have higher profits and longer-term value as well.
What are the other benefits of a diverse workforce?
The effect on gender equality on business decisions and long-term profits are undeniable. There are a lot more advantages that come with gender equality and a diverse workforce, to only name a few:
1. Innovative work environment
Men and women will inevitably have different experiences and backgrounds, shaping their approach to business. Challenging each other and collaborating with people who think differently can breed creativity and promote the innovative ideas that push organizations forward. And it is undoubtingly more fun!
2. Improved decision-making
Diversity unites varied perspectives. Due to the mixture of different soft skills men and women provide, the decision-making will be improved due to the more holistic business analysis.
3. Competitive advantage
If gender equality exists in your companies’ culture, it affects your employee job satisfaction and how long both men and women want to stay with the company. Thereby, you can leverage your competitive advantage in the long run by not only retaining but also attracting the best talent, regardless of their gender.”
We have spoken before about how our Swedish heritage might have influenced our view on gender equality. But we are also proud of the progress. As part of the Reworld Media Group, we are proud and supportive of their annual forum “Be a Boss”, dedicated to women entrepreneurs. The objective of the “Be a Boss” forum is threefold: to boost entrepreneurial ambition in women, identify future gems at the regional and national levels, and reward and support innovative and promising companies. It is designed to foster entrepreneurial thinking, a trait we at Tradedoubler stand for equally and a great initiative to support gender equality.
Speaking of corporate action, what can companies do to support gender equality?
Obviously, some work needs to happen at a societal level. Then the responsibility lies on the company itself and especially the company management. It is important to have support from the top, I think that is where it starts. Your CEO should be aware of their numbers and should believe in gender equality.
The next step is to raise awareness, whether that might be in the organisation itself, at industry events or the like, preferably both. It is about being accountable as a collective group to help enable change as we strive for equal workplaces.
Besides, it is great to have someone who believes in you and is looking out for you. During my time at Tradedoubler, I had both an internal sponsor and a mentor, supporting me throughout my career and giving me space to discuss things.
Mentor programs are a great way to sharpen the perspective of one another and become aware of the problems each one might face and become aware of personality traits that differentiate men and women. While women may be more hesitant in some statements within a meeting and men may be a bit brisker, this does not deny the same competence of both. But if you recognise the different nuances, learn to appreciate them, and develop a sensitivity towards gender equality, you and your company can only benefit from that.
It is important to educate yourself on that topic, look at your company numbers and know your actions coming from that.
As a collective group, if we change actions within our space, this will filter into other parts of society and move us one step further than we were before. It is everyone’s responsibility to be inclusive and it is about being aware of gender inequality. And coming from that point, making positive changes, and striving to do better.
Thank you, Carol, for all your time and efforts!