The workplace (gender) balancing act

Written by
Claire Cusack, HR director, Allianz Care

07 Mar 2019

07 Mar 2019 • by Claire Cusack, HR director, Allianz Care

Balance is the key to success across many aspects of our lives: a balanced diet will help us to stay healthy; a positive work-life balance allows us to prioritise our overall wellbeing, and gender balance leads to a culture of inclusivity and equality throughout society.

Gender balance in the workplace is no different, so as a HR professional the #BalanceforBetter theme for this year’s International Women’s Day resonates strongly with me.

Creating an inclusive workplace that is both effective and rewarding is a constant balancing act between ensuring that business targets are achieved while also delivering practical working solutions to meet the evolving needs of the modern workforce; those of both men and women.

Working for a global business, I recognise the real benefits and importance of attracting a diverse workforce, to create an open, inclusive and balanced work environment. However, listening to members of that workforce is equally important if we are to maintain and build upon the work done in this area.

We recently carried out a survey of Allianz staff across the world and I was encouraged to see that the vast majority (86%) felt they had a good quality of life and most (64%) felt that they struck a good work-life balance.

Women's career progression

However, when it came to how they viewed society's attitudes to equal opportunities for men and women, the research painted a picture of a world that has a lot more work to do if we are to prioritise gender balance in a truly meaningful way.

While most (81%) felt that both women and men are treated equally in terms of accessing education and the quality of the education they receive, the findings relating to finances and career progression were stark.

More than half of all respondents believed that society favours men over women when it comes to pay, with women more than twice as likely as men to hold that view (68% vs 31%). Similarly, more than half said they felt society is more favourable towards men than women, in terms of career progression, with women being two and a half times as likely (69% vs 28%) to feel that is the case.

Given the amount of work that has been done in recent years to introduce gender quotas and promote equality at a global level, it is disappointing find, in 2019, how much work is still to be done to achieve equity.

But it is also a clear indicator of how valuable International Women’s Day is as a means of mobilising men and women across the world to reflect on the issue of gender balance in the workplace.

Unfortunately, women and men are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics, women are still not being paid the same as their male counterparts, and we still see insufficient female representation in leadership positions across all sectors.

This International Women’s Day, it is my hope that organisations across the world will take the opportunity to step back and ask themselves how they can play a part in achieving greater gender balance at all levels. The onus is on all of us to share the responsibility for creating a world that prioritises gender parity. #BalanceforBetter #IWD2019