Views and Ideas

The untapped potential of gender diversity as a growth driver

08 March 2024

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, women globally were re-entering the labour force at higher rates than men, signalling a modest recovery in gender parity.

Despite this hopeful trend, the Global Gender Gap Report in 20231 reveals a sobering reality: while the global gender score is improving, the current trajectory suggests it would take an alarming 131 years to close the gap entirely. Despite progress in terms of access to education, workforce entry and career prospects, the observed global decline in women’s labour-force participation rates, presents a tangible risk to overall productivity growth. Urgent action is needed to address this disparity and fuel future growth. 

Governments play a crucial role in advancing gender equality in the labour market; policymakers can develop and implement policies and regulations that actively promote women in the workplace. Despite progress, the challenge remains significant, and more needs to be done, especially in the context of sluggish growth and retreating inflation, be it slowly. Countries like Sweden and Iceland have made significant strides in promoting gender equality in the workforce. In Sweden, policies such as generous parental leave, quotas for female representation on corporate boards and the prioritization of affordable childcare have contributed to its reputation as a leader in gender equality. Similarly, Iceland became the first country in the world to enforce equal pay for equal work by law in 2018. 

For companies, acknowledging the dual role that women play within the workforce and outside, typically as caregivers, is essential. By embracing diversity, promoting inclusivity and strategically leveraging women’s skills and talents, businesses can become more resilient and successful. Implementing policies that support work-life balance, such as childcare initiatives and flexible work-from-home options, ensures that women can fully participate and thrive in the workforce. According to the World Economic Forum, the increasing presence of women in the paid labour force since 1970 has contributed $2 trillion to the broader U.S. economy2. Fully integrating women into the labour market would substantially boost economic output, notably in Europe, where the toll of the gender employment gap is estimated at €370 billion per year3.

Ultimately, fostering an environment where women can excel, contributes to the overall success and sustainability of organisations in today’s dynamic economic environment. In fact, companies with more women in leadership positions tend to have higher returns on equity, higher earnings growth and better stock price performance4&5

1 Global Gender Gap Report 2023, World Economic Forum, June 2023

2 Gender pay inequality, Consequences for women, families and the Economy, US Congress joint economic committee, April 2016, p.11

3 The gender employment gap: Challenges and solutions, Eurofund, October 2016

4 Is gender diversity profitable? Evidence from a global survey, Peterson Institute for International Economics, February 2016

5 Delivering growth through diversity in the workplace, McKinsey & Company, January 2018

This commentary is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Published by La Française AM Finance Services, head office located at 128 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, France, 326 817 467 R.C.S. Paris, a company regulated by the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel as an investment services provider, no. 18673 X, a subsidiary of La Française. La Française Asset Management (314 024 019 R.C.S. Paris; 128 bld Raspail, 75006 Paris) was approved by the AMF under no. GP97076 on 1 July 1997.

By Claudia Ravat, ESG Analyst, La Française AM.

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