Gender equality: Is now the time to go further, faster?

3 minute read 4 Mar. 2021
By Julie Linn Teigland

EY EMEIA Area Managing Partner and EY Global Leader – Women. Fast forward

Passionate about the transformational power of digitalization and innovation and its potential to deliver sustainable, inclusive growth for clients. Prominent voice of the Women20 global agenda.

3 minute read 4 Mar. 2021

Gender equality is part of the solution to many of the world’s most complex issues.

Every year, EY teams observe International Women’s Day to recognize the incredible contribution of women to our world. Yet our commitment runs much deeper than that. Implicit within our purpose of Building a Better Working World is ensuring women are included in decision making at all levels of society, business and public policy. And despite a year in which efforts to promote gender equality may appear to have been set aside to respond to the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession, the truth is we’re more committed than ever.

That’s because the impact of pandemic-induced shutdowns has not been shared. Across the world, more women are out of work compared with men. The types of jobs and sectors impacted the most are predominantly held by women. The gender wage gap has been exacerbated, widening the retirement or pension gap and increasing the number of women and girls in extreme poverty. The UN predicts it will take at least 10 years to reverse the economic impact on women from the pandemic and, in some locations, improvements in equal pay have eroded to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Nurseries, child-care centers, schools and other infrastructural programs or services continue to stay closed; domestic workers are not able to provide services; programs for the elderly or infirm are cancelled. These mechanisms are crucial to the ability of both sexes to work, but they are particularly important for women – even more so for women in these service sectors significantly impacted by the pandemic. Some estimates suggest women are doing three to four times as many hours of unpaid work than their male counterparts, increasing the pressure on working women to make impossible choices. Without social care services, single mothers, women working part-time or without steady hours cannot continue to work at all. Those with financial means to cover the costs of care or ability to work remotely still face increased demands on their time, from home schooling to caring for loved ones, to overcoming interrupted supply chains to find food and basic supplies.

Women. Fast forward

At EY, we are creating an inclusive culture that enables women’s potential to truly transform society and build a better working world.

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At EY, we focus on the idea of belonging – meaning we value each other’s differences and work to create an environment that allows each team member to bring their authentic self to the workplace. #SheBelongs is more than a hashtag for me, as it speaks to the core values of our organization. I know the stress of being a working mother. I know the stress of worrying about family members and trying to create a healthy and safe environment. I know how many colleagues – men and women – are struggling during this incredible time.

We will get to a place and time where the pandemic is controllable, our lives can resume some level of social activity, and we can travel again to see loved ones. Let’s make sure that’s accompanied by the ability of women to achieve their personal goals and professional aspirations. Let’s make sure we all find ways to become more equitable in our homes, our roles and our lives. Let’s make sure #SheBelongs.

Summary

Without gender equality, the world cannot recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in a sustainable and inclusive way. When we make sure #SheBelongs, we create a better world for all. 

About this article

By Julie Linn Teigland

EY EMEIA Area Managing Partner and EY Global Leader – Women. Fast forward

Passionate about the transformational power of digitalization and innovation and its potential to deliver sustainable, inclusive growth for clients. Prominent voice of the Women20 global agenda.