International Women’s Day: Tools for Change

When it comes to the benefits of diversity and inclusion – the business case has been made… and made, and made again. Companies with women board members and executives consistently outperform those without. Thirty percent of millennials (who increasingly represent the core workforce) have already left an employer for a more inclusive organization. Between 2017 and 2018, companies with public incidents of sexist or racist behavior at the executive level saw an average 7% decline in market cap in the weeks following the news. And so on and so forth.

2019 finally feels like the year we should stop simply talking about the business case and start making tactical decisions on how to unlock the untapped potential of women and other underrepresented groups. Below, we take a look at some governments and companies who have been walking the talk and realizing the benefits we’ve been discussing all these years.

Photo Credit: Christine Roy on Unsplash

In government: Mandating a Minimum

Rwanda’s Constitution mandates at least 30 percent of parliamentary seats are reserved for women. Due to this law, Rwanda has been a global champion in representation of women parliamentarians for the past decade. On the flip side, in countries where mandatory gender representation in parliament is not implemented, tools like the Women Candidate Tracker help draw attention to the issue and increase visibility around women running for office.


In the Home: Paid Parental Leave

Sweden provides parents with approximately 16 months of parental leave subsidizing 80% of income for the first 13 months. The country also sets aside three months of parental leave exclusively for fathers through a use-it-or-lose-it model. If fathers opt-out, their family has three months less parental leave. This incentivizes men to take paternity leave and helps women return to work faster, mitigating the career ramifications associated with extended maternity leave. In the meantime, organizations like PL+US have developed a toolkit for companies looking to adopt progressive parental leave policies, including a calculator that analyzes the benefits and costs of offering equal paid leave to all employees.


In Families: Remote Working

Over 60% of office workers in South Africa report working from home more than half of the week (2.5 days). Well known digital tools like Dropbox, Skype, and various messaging platforms enable remote collaboration within teams. For example, 97% of South African office employees report using WhatsApp at work. Meanwhile, emerging platforms such as Asana, used by flex work leaders including Google, NASA, Spotify, and Airbnb, empower remote teams to hit peak productivity through sophisticated project planning, tracking, and management.


In the Economy: Pay Equity Analysis

With Iceland making pay equity a legal requirement in 2018 and potential plans in France to do the same in 2020, more and more governments are recognizing the importance of pay equity analysis and complementary policies. Solutions like Syndio are bringing data analytics to the problem by identifying pay gaps within groups of employees doing similar work and recommending strategic fixes.


In Leadership: Executive-Level Diversity Scorecard

In Canada, the passing of Bill-C25 has mandated disclosure of board and senior management diversity of federally incorporated public companies. To drive this legislation, we at Diversio leverage data and machine learning to analyze, improve and track diversity and inclusion for companies, unlocking bottlenecks preventing underrepresented groups from advancing into leadership. Internationally, tools like the Egon Zehnder Global Board Diversity Tracker help governments and employees alike hold companies accountable for representation at the top of the organization.


In Innovation: Listen to Diverse Perspectives First

Costa Rica has created a seal to certify gender equality across private and public organizations as well as promote a culture of shared caregiving. Accenture, a signatory of the initiative, has recognized the need to create unbiased, gender-equal workplaces and has gone so far as to develop a “Fairness Tool” that allows companies to fix unfair bias towards women, ethnic minorities and other represented groups in their AI algorithms.


Anna Klimbovskaia, COO of DiversioAnna Klimbovskaia is the COO of Diversio. She was formerly Director of Research for the Office of the CEO at the Royal Bank of Canada, where she led RBC’s year-long project on the Future of Work and developed RBCUpskill. Before joining the bank, Anna led the Diversity Dividend, a big data analytics initiative supported by the Canadian Centre for International Innovation and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.



Laura McGee, CEO of DiversioLaura McGee is the founder and CEO of Diversio, a technology company that uses data analytics and machine learning to help companies become more inclusive. She is a serial social entrepreneur who has co-founded several initiatives around diversity, including #GoSponsorHer, #WeNeedBoth and Summit Leaders. Laura was named a Top 25 Women of Influence in 2017, and was recently appointed Co-Chair of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Expert Panel.