By Definition: What Is Gender Equity and Why Does it Matter?
Note: This is part one of a five-part series, “An Audacious Goal: Achieving Gender Equity in Our Lifetime”.
When Pipeline was founded in 2017, it set out to accomplish one important mission: to make gender equity possible in our lifetime. For our team, the question isn’t whether or not closing the gender equity gap is possible — it’s whether or not we choose to close the gender equity gap.
Pipeline’s research shows when organizations make a choice for gender equity, they experience greater growth, larger revenue and positive results for their multiple stakeholders. Pipeline helps organizations reach these benefits faster, and with less room for error, by providing a continuously evolving roadmap that shows an organization’s current state and the path to reaching gender parity.
However, before an organization can make the crucial decision to close the gender equity gap, which impacts not only businesses on an individual level but also the global economy, it’s important to understand what exactly gender equity is, as opposed to other terms often used in similar conversations, such as gender equality.
How Do We Define Gender Equity?
We define gender equity as the fair treatment of women and men according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment, or it may include treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities.
Gender equity ensures opportunities are not limited on the basis of gender. It corrects for gender biases so that economic outcomes improve for everyone.
How Does Gender Equity Differ from Gender Equality?
Gender equity and gender equality are related, however, they are not the same. Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men, boys and girls. Gender equality does not mean that women and men will be treated the same; it means that women and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not be based upon their gender.
In short, if gender equality is the end, gender equity is the means.
Why Does It Matter?
Gender equity impacts the economic pie for all. A future of gender parity is one filled with abundant opportunity:
- Increased economic opportunities for businesses globally
- Solutions to a worsening labor shortage
- Diverse representation among political leadership
- Further innovation in the tech and startup industries
Pipeline believes we can reach these achievements in our lifetime. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum projects if the world continues along its current trajectory, it will take 217 years to reach gender equality globally and 165 years to reach gender equality in North America. That’s five more generations.
Related: The Optimistic Future
We — our leaders, our businesses, our country and our children — cannot afford to wait for five more generations. Currently…
- Women are paid, on average, 80 cents on the dollar of their male colleagues (the number is worse for women of color)
- Of the top 2 percent of wage earners in the United States, women are paid 39 cents on the dollar of their male colleagues
- 90 percent of women leave the workforce due to workplace issues unrelated to having a child
- Half of the women in STEM fields will leave their roles due to hostile work environments
- In a time when finding qualified labor is an issue, women hold the majority of higher education degrees, but are leaving the workforce at a consistent rate
Gender Equity in Action
Pipeline found through its own research across 4,161 companies in 29 countries, that for every 10 percent increase in gender equity, a company experiences a 1-2 percent increase in revenue. The benefits are economic and measurable in dollars and cents. They extend to a company’s diversity, its potential new leadership and its opportunities for innovation.
Microsoft has become a strong voice in the gender equity conversation. In a recent conversation with Brad Anderson, corporate vice president at Microsoft, Pipeline asked him about the positive growth Microsoft experienced as a result of moving toward gender equity.
In addition to highlighting Microsoft’s stock price, Anderson said, “The best part about our focus on equity is how it will impact the work we’re doing, the perspectives we’ll have and the leaders we’ll cultivate. This is what will really make us successful.”
Cisco is another champion of equity issues. As part of their commitment to being a global leader addressing the issue of pay parity, Cisco is a member of Employers for Pay Equity Consortium, where they share their best practices on promoting gender equity. They are also a founding signatory of the 2016 White House Equal Pay Pledge and a signatory of Glassdoor’s Equal Pay Pledge.
Gender equity takes men’s and women’s respective needs and meets them equitably, giving everyone opportunities, regardless of gender. Gender equality is the result of those opportunities being available.
As Pipeline has shown through its research and working with organizations to increase equity for all, gender equity is a quantifiable, data-driven, economic opportunity. When we make gender equity a priority and choose to close the gender equity gap, we can realize the individual and global benefits that result.
See how Pipeline helps companies do just that by scheduling a Pipeline platform demo today.
Continue to part two, Where We Are and Where We’re Going with Gender Parity, where Pipeline examines the current state of gender equity.