Seen & Heard in the Equality Lounge @ Davos 2020

We just returned from the World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland where conversations centered around this year’s theme Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.

Inside the Equality Lounge @ Davos, we featured panels and discussions dedicated to addressing how to drive equality in the workplace. Over 100 thought leaders came together to share their insights and advice on how to activate change together. As we embark on 2020, here are some inspiring takeaways from the women and men inside the Lounge. 

Inside the Equality Lounge @ Davos 2020

Inside the Equality Lounge @ Davos 2020

How can we ensure we’re implementing diversity and inclusion in our workplaces? As Jamie Dimon puts it, it’s not that complicated: Treat everyone with equal trust and respect: “On a micro and macro basis, all companies participate in community — and they have a responsibility to do so. That’s called ‘humanity.’ Just because you’re a big company doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be human.”—Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

“50% of workers today will need to be trained or develop new skills to do their job as early as next year. There is a portion of the working population that are the most vulnerable. One of those populations is women.” – Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising and Client Partnerships, NBCUniversal, on why diversity, inclusion, and ethical tech need to be taken into consideration together — and how to accelerate this progress into the next decade.

“With sponsorship you’re putting forth personal capital. With mentorship, you’re just giving good advice. It’s the capital people need.” – Bob Mortiz, Global Chairman, PwC in a panel on gender and mental health. 

“The skills you need tomorrow are different from the skills you have today… The most important skill for the future is to learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Carol Stubbings, Global Head of People and Organisation and Global Relationship Partner, PwC, on the workforce of the future.

“Diversity is Business 101. It gives us a competitive advantage to have diverse teams, and equal pay is foundational to that.”— Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal, in a conversation with CNBC Anchor Sara Eisen on why financial inclusion isn’t a nice-to-have— it’s imperative. 

“Every single day as human beings, we are faced with choices — and inclusion is one of them. If you want to build a company that appeals to a diverse customer base, the people creating the products and services have to be diverse themselves.”— Alicia Tillman, Chief Marketing Officer, SAP on how companies can create cultures of inclusion and purpose to help every employee connect the dots between their work and the meaningful impact that it contributes to.

“The fashion industry is worth $2 trillion. If they invested even just 1% a year, we could get to our 2030 sustainability goals.” — Miki Tsusaka, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Chief Marketing Officer, Boston Consulting Group, on how fashion can support women as the catalyst for sustainability and the mission-driven brands that are changing the game.

“Listen to young people. They’re extraordinary and understand issues in a way we don’t.” — Jeremi Gorman, Chief Business Officer, Snap Inc., on global media’s biggest transformation and what companies need to do to reach true equality – behind and in front of the camera.

“There are many paths up the mountain. Let’s just make sure we’re on the same mountain and we’re working together to get up the mountain.”— Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, P&G on how there is power in the pack. 

“As the world’s largest advertiser, we see that as a responsibility to ensure that we use our ads to tackle bias.” — Carolyn Tastad, Group President, North America and Chief Sales Officer, P&G, on how they are promoting equality. 

“If we want to improve people’s lives, we must give them direct access to physical and digital mobility.” – Scott Corwin, Managing Director & Global Future of Mobility Practice Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, on the future of mobility and its potential to transform the world as we know it: When people and goods are able to move smarter, safer, and faster, communities thrive across all dimensions. 

“Why does household work default — or rather, shefault — to women? Invisible work burdens women. Why is men’s time viewed as diamonds, and women’s time is viewed as sand?” — Eve Rodsky, Author of “Fair Play,” on busting the myth that women are better suited to shoulder household responsibilities and turning everyone’s time into diamonds.

“When we’re interviewing people, I always tell them, ‘If you don’t believe in why we exist, which is to give people a voice, this isn’t the right place for you.’ Employees need to be aligned with our values.” — Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook, on why companies have a responsibility beyond their bottom line. 

“Be daring. You have just as much a reason and purpose to be where you are as anyone else does.” — Hannah Burns, Head of Games Promotion, International Olympic Committee, when asked by CAA Sports Agent Monica Fee what advice she would give to women entering male-dominated industries.

“There are 7 billion people in the world. Half of them are women. Only 1/3 of the GDP comes from women. Yet, women are the influencers of money and make many of the financial decisions at home…Athletes themselves are brands. Megan Rapinoe, who has stood up for women, is a remarkable brand.”— Suzan Kereere, Global Head of Merchant Sales and Acquiring, Visa, in a panel on empowering women entrepreneurs globally. 

“I decided from a very young age that, no matter the size of my platform, I would talk about issues that were important to me. Being in entertainment, I take my social responsibilities to the world very seriously. But you don’t have to be a public figure. With technology becoming such an important part of our lives, each and every one of us can speak up and push the envelope when it comes to matters that concern us.” — Priyanka Chopra, Actress and Activist, on taking inspiration from the rising generations and be the changemakers we were born to be.

“10 years ago, I didn’t have anyone to look up to who was in the realm of the LGBTQ space, let alone a transgender person. At that time, I had no idea who I was or that I identified as transgender. But, with social media today, people can pick up a camera and tell their story. That’s powerful and it can help. What I would have given 10 years ago to have someone like me up there, showing their true self, and saying, ‘It’s okay.’ That’s all I needed.”— Gigi Gorgeous, Transgender Author, Model, and Activist, shared her personal story and how social media has become a lifeline for some in the transgender community.

“When humans think of privacy, they think of being together with someone they trust. They don’t think about cookies.” — Peter Sellis, Senior Director, Product, Snap, on how privacy goes beyond technical definitions; it has a lot to do with ephemerality and humanistic design, which drives expression in and equality in communication.  

“The first step up to manager is the pivotal place we need to focus. For every 100 men promoted to manager we are promoting 70 women and 58 black women. Women are entering the workforce at the same rate, but they’re not getting that first promotion…When a man is successful, we ascribe it to his own skills. When a woman is successful, we ascribe it to hard work, others helping her and being lucky. Unless we fix the first broken rung, we’re not going to fix the numbers…”— Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook and Co-Founder, LeanIn.Org, on fixing the broken rung.

“Greta Thunberg’s words, ‘You’ve stolen my dreams and my childhood,’ went straight to my heart. I’d rather stop my business today if we can’t make a difference. We need to focus on reversing our direction and creating sustainable fashion.” — Sung-Joo Kim, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, Sungjoo Group and Chairperson, MCM Holding AG, on reducing the fashion industry’s global carbon footprint. 

“The current rate of change is not fast enough. Partnership is so important because we cannot achieve equality through public policy alone. This must be a movement.” — Anita Bhatia, Deputy ED for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships, UN Women, on how to make 2020 a year of action and outline a bold new plan to achieve Global Goal 5.

“Women have to get used to breaking through, making their point, and getting it across. That’s still something I find difficult myself.” — Tina Brown, Founder and CEO, Tina Brown Live Media and Women in the World, on how crucial — and challenging — it is to find your voice.

“Values are 100% a choice and that’s what’s so liberating about it. Whatever is important to you, let that be your guide. We’re too easily derailed by what’s on our phone or what our families or countries think.” —Mandeep Rai, Social Entrepreneur, Activist and Author of “The Values Compass,”  in a conversation with Google’s Tara Walpert Levy on how we can apply the values that define nations into our own lives— and why this individual approach will result in a more cohesive global family.

“If you’re one woman in a room, you’re very different. If you’re a couple of women in a room, people are always comparing you. Once you reach critical mass, they aren’t thinking about you in that way.” – Ann Cairns, Vice Chairman, Mastercard on the societal and systemic barriers that keep women from getting ahead, and explore why accessible leadership is key to female advancement. 

“Women in leadership don’t realize that, even just by being there, it’s sending a signal to others that, ‘You can do it, too.'”– Sharon Thorne, Chair, Deloitte, Global Board of Directors on fostering female advancement in the workplace.  

“One of the most important things is to inspire my daughters to do good… The best way to live is to lead a life of doing good.” —Nico Rosberg, F1 champion and sustainability leader, on living and working with purpose. 

“The best way to win the talent war is to retain your people. And the best way to retain your people is to inspire them.”– Steven Demetriou, Chair and CEO, Jacobs Engineering, on how broadening the scope of diversity allows us to activate untapped talent, catalyzing real change, and fostering a truly inclusive workplace.

“If we’re trying to change the world from outside in, it won’t be sustainable. We have a ripple effect when we look inwards. We all want to make a difference in the world, and we have to start with ourselves first.” – Julianne Hough, Founder and CEO, KINRGY Expanded Fitness, on how the power of pure movement allows us to better relate to ourselves and the world around us. 

“Brands with purpose perform better. There’s a major shift being taken by the Business Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility. How do corporations relate to shareholders, consumers, and society in a different way? Traditionally, a corporation’s purpose was to make money — some would say at any cost. The Business Roundtable committed to including societal issues in a company’s purpose. Stepping it up to that level will really have an impact.”– Michael Roth, CEO, InterpublicIPG, on defining purpose

“We put purpose at the center because we believe that brands with purpose grow, companies with purpose last, and people with purpose thrive.” — Luis Di Como, Executive Vice President of Global Media, Unilever, on what leaders can do to build brand trust and navigate these times of disruption.

“Think about your legacy. Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to start working on [elevating other women].” – Dina Powell, Managing Director & Member of the Management Committee at Goldman Sachs, in a fireside chat on how women are leading in finance and the wider impact of gender-balanced institutions.

“Having diversity isn’t an imperative to excellence; it’s a pathway to excellence.” –  Jane Fraser, President, Citi and Chief Executive Officer, Global Consumer Banking, on how the face of Wall Street is changing as a wave of women rises the ranks in finance.

 “73% of Gen Z will pay more for environmentally friendly products. Our challenge is educating large brands on how important this is.” Amber Atherton, Founder and CEO of Zyper, when asked by Marne Levine of Facebook about a challenge she has overcome that has unlocked inclusivity.  

“The world is going to continue to get more diverse, and diversity of people brings innovation. It brings all kinds of ideas we wouldn’t have if everyone around the table looks and thinks the same.” —Dr. Lisette Garcia, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), on how companies can prepare for a future that few of us can define. 

“Women of color are battling different stereotypes. Our brain categorizes things in this order: race, gender and then age. For women of color, race trumps gender.‬” — Alexis McGill Johnson, CEO and President, Planned Parenthood, on the reasons that women of color face more barriers in the workforce and evidence-based solutions that executives can champion to ensure this critical group of talent isn’t left behind.

So, who will win the ’20s? “The competitive advantage will be on the organizations who have the data, know what to do with it, can learn from it fast, and continue to evolve,” says Rich Lesser, CEO of BCG “As conscious leaders, we have to set a tone for what matters and back it with accountability.” – Rich Lesser, CEO, Boston Consulting Group, on what conscious leadership means to him.

While we saw more women than ever before at this year’s elite gathering, gender representation at WEF remains low. Of 2,820 total participants, only 682 are women (or 24% of all attendees, which is only a slight improvement from past years where the average hovered somewhere between 18 and 20 percent). 

Not only is the cost to attend high, but Davos is also primarily attended by invitation only. Participants are selected from the highest levels of power, which is why women have historically been underrepresented at the conference. Women currently enter the workforce at 50/50. Yet, in 2019, just 29% of senior management roles were held by women and only 5% of C-suite roles were held by women. 

If women continue to be left out of global events in which important discussions, debates, and decisions take place, then how can we strengthen the pipeline and support them as they progress up the corporate ladder and into the C-suite? That’s why access to existing leadership and more people who will sponsor rising talent is key. The bottom line: When you add women to any equation, the equation gets better. 


To watch full panel discussions, just head over to our Facebook feed. You can also find more highlights from the Equality Lounge on Twitter and here on our site:

Where We Stand Today

Inside the Equality Lounge @ CES 2020: Why Visibility for Women is Key to Closing Tech’s Gender Gap

Our Evolution from the Girls’ Lounge to the Equality Lounge