As a leader, International Women’s Day on March 8 is an important day for me. It opens up the opportunity for organizations and individuals to discuss the need to create a gender balance for all, and what we can do to get there. I’ll have to admit though, my commitment to gender equality is also very personal.
As a father of two girls, I’m constantly reminded that in the current world in which we live, there’s no guarantee yet that my daughters will be afforded the same opportunities as my son as they chase their career dreams. It pains me to think that there may be situations in their future where their voice will be over powered in a meeting, where they’ll experience judging looks for trying to establish careers in what some may consider typically male-dominated fields, where they’ll come back from maternity leave (if they choose to have a family) and feel the pressure that they have to work twice as hard to prove that they’re committed to their roles.
On International Women’s Day, we want our clients and the communities to know that inclusion and diversity is a strategic priority at KPMG. But more than that, International Women’s Day presents a perfect opportunity to collectively stop and take a moment to reflect on the progress we are making to achieve gender parity. And the figures show we still have a long way to go. For me, the real value of International Women’s Day is that it challenges us to do better, not just on March 8, but continuously throughout the year.
It encourages us to tackle some difficult questions such as: What can we do to increase the number of women in leadership positions? Why are young women less likely to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, which is a strategic skill increasingly needed in the business world of the future? How can we address the male ‘stigma’ around shared parental leave, which in fact may be a contributing driver to gender equality?
We need to ask ourselves these and other tough questions if we truly want to build a balanced world for all. They’re crucial if I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as my son. I want that… my daughters want that… my son wants that… we all have the same ambition. It’s not enough to talk about the benefits of a gender-balanced world – we must all take action to make it a reality.