Post written by Jane Hunt, former inaugural CEO at Fitted for Work.
After navigating through the snow and daunting security I was finally seated, waiting for a session on unemployment to commence. I noticed that each person opened up their iPad or phone as they sat down, and if I was quick I would glimpse a photo of a loved one – usually a daughter or son. The photos showed children doing funny things or simply caught in a beautiful moment. It reminded me that we are all human – we all have relationships that are loving and meaningful in our lives.
And at the World Economic Forum, where big issues such as the global economy, climate change, and the rising inequality in income distribution are discussed, it is important to remember that each one of us can create the kind of world that will enable the children in these photos to thrive.
It was so encouraging to see gender and diversity on the agenda at the World Economic Forum – especially as it was clearly demonstrated that companies that employ women at all levels of the organisation perform better, problem solve better, and have increased employee satisfaction rates. After all, a diversity of opinions and experiences will only lead to better solutions to problems.
Despite the strong evidence, many companies still fail to capitalize on the skills and thinking that women bring at all levels. My observation, after talking with many senior leaders, is that they struggle to develop an inclusive culture within their organisations. Without this (married up with good targets, policies and processes), initiatives fail to achieve the diversity they want and their businesses fail to achieve their potential. The CEO of Tupperware, Rick Goings, and his team have created a successful business based on both seeing the opportunity in employing and developing women, and in creating an inclusive culture where women flourish. As one of the Tupperware employees commented, ‘My make-up is dynamic and I can achieve. I don’t need to be like a man to do so.’
Interestingly, Rick Goings observed something we see every day at Fitted for Work: when women are employed, their self-esteem and confidence increases. This confidence becomes the fuel that helps them influence those around them, creating positive change in their families and their communities
It was reinforced for me at the World Economic Forum that we need to focus on diversity and inclusivity. Those young girls and boys, captured beautifully on our iPads and phones, need a world where they can participate equally and solve pressing global issues together. We can give them this.