Empowering gender equality

When talking about gender equality, it is not just about cheering for equal rights and justice (although that is very important), it’s also about national prosperity and financial gain.

Equality affects the bottom line

The economic effect of women’s high participation in the Norwegian workforce is staggering, even if it should be obvious. A report from the Norwegian Department of Social Research showed that 10 percent of the GDP growth between 1973 and 2013 came from growth in employment, largely due to growth in women's employment. The analysis concludes that the GDP would have been 3300 billion NOK lower if we had not had this growth, and that the connection between equality and prosperity is indisputable.

Did you know that:

  • Women are more important than oil for the economy in terms of hard cash
  • Norwegian laws and regulations empowering gender equality were one of the reasons why we were so well equipped when the financial crisis hit the world in 2007
  • A side effect of women having more equal career possibilities is that men in Norway now have more equal opportunities in family life

The proof is in the pudding

Still not convinced that investing in women is good for business? The report Better Leadership, Better World: Women Leading for the Global Goals by WomenRising2018, an initiative launched by the Business Sustainable and Development Commission, provides further evidence. It shows that women’s leadership can unlock major opportunities linked to a sustainable economy. It describes a series of analyses that conclude that having women represented in top management and corporate boards pays off:

  • Companies where women accounted for at least 15 percent of senior management had 18 percent higher profitability than companies with fewer women in senior management.
  • Companies with a high degree of gender equality performed 11 percent better than companies with a lower level of gender equality. These companies also performed better than the general market in the same period, while companies with low levels of gender equality lost ground.
  • Managers who included women had lower bankruptcy risk than other companies, and there was a greater likelihood of managing decisions that gave significant long-term profitability and success.Gender Equality

More work to do

Even if gender roles are changing and policies are put into place, a recent report by the World Economic Forum found that it would take 108 years to reach gender equality at the current pace of social and economic change. If women in Norway had been working as much as men in the period between 1973 and 2013, the GDP would have been 2300 billion NOK higher.

In conclusion, there is still a big financial gain to be had in Norway if more women worked full-time, despite of having one of the highest participation rate in the world. This is one of the reasons why the Norwegian government and BI Norwegian Business School are dedicated to working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development goal #5: Gender Equality.

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