In Her Words: Why Caring, Purpose, and Equality at Work Matter
Walking into The Female Quotient off the Promenade in Davos during the World Economic Forum was like coming home after a long day at work.
At work we are told that we are doing well if our organization is close to reaching 30% parity in the boardroom. Why we wouldn’t see parity as 50% is beyond me, given we are, always have been and always will be at least half the population. Currently women are 52% of the population and often control expenditure, decide on what to buy, which holidays to book, etc.
At the Congress Center at Davos this year, female participation was just 22%. It is well documented that the World Economic Forum would like this to change, but it has been said that the female ‘talent’ is not there. Thankfully, at The Female Quotient there is no dearth of female talent, as there were more than 100 female panelists representing experts across industries, ages, and ethnicity.
In fact, I was encouraged to moderate a panel called “Why Caring, Purpose, and Equality at Work Matter in the Digital Age.” (You can watch the full panel here). Our panel was represented by both genders, and a variety in class, ethnicity and age. This was fitting given that our topic of discussion was diversity, equality and care, but also because we genuinely care no matter what the topic.
Why We Need Cultures of Care
We know that caring concretely contributes to the bottom line: It enhances employee loyalty, engagement and retention. So not only do companies save in their re-hiring and training costs, but each individual employee gives more. “We bring our WHOLE self to work when we know we are being listened to, and that even our dependents are being provided for,” said one PwC employee.
When creating cultures of care, it’s important to recognize and take into account cultural differences. “When you hire diversity, you must be sensitive to their culture, not just the color of their skin,” said Isha Sesay, a former CNN correspondent.
An embrace from your global tribe feels better when you know that they have your back, no matter what the cost of standing up for minorities. I recall a story from Tim Ryan, the US Chairman of PWC, who learned that his black employees feel particularly unsafe in the streets, and often pull out their business card if they are stopped on the streets, to prove they are working individuals. “The very least you would expect is safely in the streets or when you get to work,” said Tim Ryan. “So that is our priority, and we will keep asking questions until we have a truly satisfying place to work.”
Making Sure Everyone Has a Seat at the Table
The reason The FQ is different to the rest of the Promenade at Davos is that there is space for those voices that are typically left from the tables of power. Yet where does the real power lie if not among the people raising the next generation, or designing the next level of technology (like Joy Buolamwini of the Algorithmic Justice League), or investing in impact and the future of work (like Carrie Duarte of Workforce of the Future Leader, PWC, US)?
It is only by having all voices at the table that you feel empowered to speak your truth and then together create the change that is required.
The FQ Lounge has not only created that space and bought the diverse voices together, but it did so in record time, being in just its fourth year at Davos. If you haven’t been to The FQ Lounge and you’re a Davos regular, go for the camaraderie, go for the women and, most of all, go for the action. Pledges are being made, and then results are measured a year later, by which point, if targets are not met, there is a lot more support by people who wish to see the change in the world, and do whatever it takes to make it happen.
Mandeep Rai is CEO of Creative Visions Global. Mandeep lives in London, and has worked, lived or travelled to over 120 Countries. She is a broadcast journalist, writer, speaker and investor.