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Essay: Diversity and inclusion, and how to bridge the gender gap

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  • Subject area(s): Business essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: 2 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 789 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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What is Diversity?
All people are the same because biologically we are all part of the same sort. But also every human is unique. Diversity means all the ways we differ and that each individual is unique. This includes visible differences such as age, race, ethnicity, gender, ethnicity and physical appearance, as well as underlying differences such as religion, nationality, sexual orientation, political beliefs, education and the way we think.
What is inclusion?
Inclusion means creating a working culture where differences are valued, where everyone has the opportunity to develop their skills and talents consistent to a company’s value and their business objectives. To make an organization where people feel involved, respected and connected with each other.
Diversity and Inclusion together on the work floor
Diversity challenges us to recognize and value all sorts of differences in order to make our environment a better place for everyone to work. Equality on the other hand is about making sure people are treated fairly and given fair chances. Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a big aspect we are dealing with every day and everywhere. You will see at schools, you will see all kinds of backgrounds and ethnicities at a school. By treating them all the same everyone feels included. Also in business life D&I is a big aspect, a lot of companies are focusing on diversity and inclusion now a days. For example: Shell, Abercrombie & Fitch). In my essay I will focus on the minority representation in terms of women on the work floor in two European countries, namely Britain and Sweden. How is Britain different than Sweden in terms of gender on the top of the hierarchy?
The glass ceiling in Britain
Nine years ago Britain was ranked one of the worlds top 10 countries for equality but as of today Britain comes in at number 26. Despite doing well in the education and health aspects of the list’s criteria, the report, written by the World Economic Forum, makes clear that women are lacking in many sectors of the United Kingdom economy and have little political power. The pay gap between full time female and male is an average of 10%, and the average part-time pay gap is 34.5 percent. It is hard to reach the top if each year 30,000 women get fired simply for being pregnant and on estimate around 440,000 women each year lose out on pay or promotion as a result of pregnancy. Women in the United Kingdom still find it hard to crack the glass ceiling however looking at the percentage of women on board of the FTSE in 2014 is 20.7 percent up from 12.5 percent in 2011, within striking distance of a target for women to account for one quarter of board seats by 2015.
The glass ceiling in Sweden
The top 5 in the report of Global Gender Gap Report are the following countries: number 5 we find Denmark following by Sweden, Norway, and Finland and on top Iceland. This might not come as a surprise that the Nordic countries are on top of the list. Since the report was established the Nordic countries have consistently kept the smallest gender gap. In Sweden equality has been on the political agenda since the 70s when the gender-neutral parental insurance was introduced. However when it comes to economic opportunities and the number of women at executive level Sweden is only slightly ahead of Britain. Saadia Zahidi, head of gender parity programme at the World Economic Forum says: ‘Today Swedish parents can split parental leave and, although mothers typically take 76% of it, stay-at-home dads are increasing. A more equal division of the parental leave would have a positive effect on the number of women in business.’
How to bridge the gender gap
According to Amanda Lundeteg, CEO of Allbright an organization working for equality and diversity at executive business level in Sweden, says there is a clear path that companies can take in order to bridge the gender gap. ‘The Businesses that succeed in promoting women are those that make their mind up; that have a CEO who makes it clear that this is a prioritized question,’ says Lundeteg. The second move is strategic management; setting goals and measuring them, and the third step is one that might prove most difficult for Britain. ‘It very much comes down to looking at our own culture, looking at why men reward men and not focusing on efforts that mean women themselves should identify what they need to do in order to progress’.
Studies show that companies with better gender diversity not only have a better financial performance but that those companies also have a better stability of their share prices on the stock market. In other words: D&I, and Equality are good for business.

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