4 minute read 10 Nov 2020
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Five Ps to remember: Parity Promotes Purpose, Performance and Profit

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

4 minute read 10 Nov 2020

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Companies advancing gender parity forge a stronger sense of purpose, which drives improved performance and profit. Discover the how and why of the 5P formula.

Times are changing: no matter what industry you’re in, firms no longer have an excuse not to bring purpose to your work and parity to your workplace. Why? Because parity promotes purpose – and both are driving profit and performance. That’s a bold statement, but the numbers back it up.

Let’s start with how purpose guides strategy and drives performance. Nearly three-quarters of the 1,470 business leaders from a wide range of industries around the world that EY spoke with in our 2017 research said that having a well-integrated purpose helps them navigate today’s disrupted environment.

Additionally, two-thirds of the business executives interviewed by EY were rethinking their organizations’ purpose, and more than half of those were moving toward a broader definition of purpose that includes employees, customers, shareholders and society as a whole.

Good for purpose. But, what about gender parity?

Levels of gender parity appear to be a critical factor on how well a purpose is embraced and leveraged by a company. Our research indicates that women find purpose more useful and motivating, so a higher proportion of women in the workplace translates to a total workforce more engaged by a purpose – and therefore better able to realize its ambition.

80% of women interviewed by EY said that purpose helps guide their organization through volatility, compared to just under 70% of men who were surveyed. When it comes to realizing the proven benefits of purposeful business – like better employee retention, stronger customer engagement (pdf) and a more innovative workforce – that 10% gap could mean the difference between seizing and skipping the transformative opportunity that a purpose can provide.

That’s not the only way parity and purpose go hand-in-hand. EY research shows that more women than men believe purpose creates long term value for their organization. Similarly, the 2015 Workforce Purpose Index by Imperative found that women are more likely than men to be purpose-oriented workers.

Women recognize the value of purpose and the benefits it brings. So are they more likely to put purpose into action for their organization.

Women leaders put purpose into practice

A key challenge of moving purpose from rhetoric to reality is making sure all employees are motivated by it and living it, not just the C-suite or the marketing department. More than 85% of women describe collaborating and integrating purpose through a wide network as “extremely critical.”

The positive relationship between purpose-driven leadership and gender equality may help explain why a 2018 report from Development Dimensions International, The Conference Board, and EY found that increasing gender diversity correlates directly with stronger growth and more effective leadership. Similarly, a 2016 EY-sponsored study by The Petersen Institute for International Economics found that an organization with 30% female leaders could add up to 6 percentage points to its net margin.

When organizations illuminate clear paths to leadership, build inclusive cultures, and support flexibility, women rise within the ranks, often inspiring purposeful transformations within their organizations along the way.

The 5P formula

Purpose and parity reinforce one another. Regardless of where this cycle started, it’s a good for business – and good for society. When devising your organization’s policies for gender parity and the promotion of purpose – consider the 5P mantra that can advance both simultaneously:

  1. Parity
  2. Promotes
  3. Purpose, to drive
  4. Performance and 
  5. Profit

How can we catalyze the 5P formula?

It’s critical that we all create the inclusive, fertile conditions for gender parity to flourish and strengthen a purpose-driven culture. Let's ask ourselves:

  • Are we proactively sponsoring women in leadership roles?
  • Are we building inclusive environments that bring purpose to life for every employee?
  • Are we creating workplaces that allow everyone to bring their full, human self to work?
  • Are we making space for women and men to question decisions through the lens of purpose?

If we work toward a “Yes” answer to each of these questions, we’ll see the path ahead is pretty straightforward: parity and purpose will drive performance and profit. The more disrupted and uncertain the world, the better that simple formula works.

Businesses willing to follow this path will create long term value for all of their stakeholders – and that builds a better working world for us all.


Gender parity and purpose drive profit and performance. And help organizations drive inclusive growth for all.