International Women’s Day has been celebrated every year on 8 March since 1921. Since then, women have taken to the streets for their rights on that day. The United Nations later chose this date as the Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace.
A lot has happened since then. Women are present in public life, in society, in companies and politics, make decisions and are opinion leaders. But are they always recognized as the equals of their male counterparts? In many industries, women earn less for the same work – and in senior executive positions they are still hardly to be found in Germany, or not at all. And this does not just apply to the Ministry of the Interior or Zalando.
Are we making progress?
Unfortunately, progress is much too slow – and there are always setbacks. The goal of achieving equal opportunities for women and men seems to be ever more distant at present. More and more women find themselves disadvantaged in their profession because of their gender. Only one third considers holding an executive position to be realistic. This was the result of a survey conducted by the “Chefsache” initiative, of which TÜV Rheinland is a member.
Women’s confidence in being able to fulfil their career aspirations has also declined. Only 33.5 percent of the women surveyed consider it realistic to move up into an executive position. A year ago, it was 38.2 percent. Male confidence at least stands at 43.9 percent (beginning of 2018: 48.3 percent).
Actively shaping equal opportunities instead of declaring a public holiday!
International Women’s Day became a public holiday in Berlin this year. Will that help us? Not if it doesn’t also make people change their views. Rather, we should take 8th March as a trigger to reflect on the current situation and general environment that still holds back equal opportunities for women and men. Companies in particular are called upon here to make a contribution and offer solutions.
Replacing rigid working hours with flexible models
Creating opportunities for mobile, flexible working is a first step in this direction. Not only women with family responsibilities, but also more and more men would like to have a say in when they work. Despite the current political debate on working time models and home offices, however, there has been little change in the survey result since last year. 41.2 per cent of women and 47.9 per cent of men state that they are able to work flexibly in terms of time and location without incurring any disadvantages. More opportunities need to be created here.
Eliminating unconscious bias
Women in executive positions? “There aren’t enough qualified women! Qualifications are the only thing that matters to us! It’ll solve itself over time!” Who doesn’t know them, the ever popular phrases regarding female leadership positions? We need to enlighten people. On the 2019 International Women’s Day, the “Chefsache” initiative launched a campaign to make the topic of unconscious bias in filling executive positions more transparent and to raise awareness in this regard – especially that of decision-makers and senior executives. The campaign is accompanied by an Online test where you can find out for yourself how prejudiced you are with regard to women’s career opportunities.
Don’t worry, we all have some kind of unconscious bias. Which makes it all the more important to become aware of this in order to initiate change. So: “Enlighten people,” not only on International Women’s Day because the “Thomas’ and Michaels” are still in the majority on corporate boards and the male monoculture has been cultivated for far too long.