• Andrew Weir, Leadership |

As we mark International Women's Day at the start of a new decade, we unite globally to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women in our societies.

This year’s theme is Each for Equal. An equal world is an enabled world and we must each actively challenge stereotypes, fight bias and broaden perceptions to drive tangible progress. Each of us can and must make a valuable contribution every day in the continuing global campaign to forge a world that’s truly gender equal and inclusive.

But as we observe and celebrate how far we’ve come and what we've accomplished, let's also take time to sincerely reflect on the ground-breaking journey that lies ahead, setting our sights on how much farther we must travel to achieve absolute gender parity in our world. Gender equality is not a women's issue – it's essential to a fair and functioning society whose economies and communities will thrive. A gender equal world is healthier, wealthier and more harmonious.

I am proud to note that International Women’s Day is an event we place firmly in the spotlight each year across KPMG’s global network and 2020 is no exception as we unite to celebrate under one global theme, the #futureisinclusive. We continue building excitement and momentum for one of KPMG’s most successful company-wide programs, engaging and inspiring our people to continue the quest to empower lasting, positive change.

Make inclusion a business imperative

As part of our ongoing commitment to International Women’s Day we are featuring timely insights and encouragement from our global leaders and colleagues. We are also proud to continue to raise the awareness on the need to empower inclusion and diversity.

I am happy to also note that our global leadership team today comprises a diverse collection of skilled regional leaders and that we are dedicated to driving, sustaining and accelerating progress within the KPMG network and beyond.

But the big issues of today can’t be solved by a few. Homogeny doesn’t breed innovation. And you can’t build trust without first creating an environment where people feel they belong. That’s why we in the asset management community, for example, are working each day to promote an inclusive culture in which everyone is valued and encouraged to contribute their unique skills, passions, capabilities, voices and differences.

KPMG’s 2019 report The Call to Act – Women in Alternative Investments notes that institutional investors have within the last few years significantly heightened their efforts to influence progressive change at the companies in which they invest. Among the 886 alternative investment professionals, industry leaders, fund managers and investors we surveyed globally, 83 percent agreed that ‘diversity is a business imperative’ and nearly three-quarters agreed that they will ‘educate themselves on how unconscious bias can impact key talent and investment decisions.’

Bridging the gender gap demands a new focus

I believe that businesses certainly need to be doing more to build sustainable gender-diversified enterprises in ways that will ultimately contribute to their own success. Think about it – just as our focus on diversification helps to safeguard the future of our investments, shaping diverse workforces and societies should be considered crucial to how we do business every day.

As asset managers, we also spend considerable time working with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) funds, financing sustainable growth by integrating ESG factors into investment decisions. I would suggest that it makes sense along the way to collectively concentrate more intently on the ‘S’ in ESG – driving significant Social change that includes gender parity and diversity.

The fact is that while some progress on bridging the gender gap is certainly being made and warrants praise, we as a global society have yet to achieve the pace and scale needed to drive truly tangible and sustainable change. As the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2020 states, at the current rate of progress, we will not achieve global gender parity for another 100 years.

Noting the 31.4 percent average gender gap that still needs to be closed globally, the report also warns that a century-long timeline is one “we simply cannot accept in today’s globalized world, especially among younger generations who hold increasingly progressive views of gender equality.”

As we work to close that gap, noteworthy are the encouraging efforts of UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to accelerating global progress on gender equality. Their theme for this year’s celebrations – I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights – is aligned with their new multi-generational campaign Generation Equality, which marks milestones such as the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on women’s empowerment. In addition, 2020 marks a five-year milestone toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; and the 10th anniversary of UN Women.

As we celebrate this important day together, let’s not ignore the undeniable need to heighten the intensity and scope of our efforts. The time to act with greater urgency is now. It is up to each of us. The future is equal. The future is together. The future is inclusive.

#futureisinclusive #itsdecisiontime