The business and political sphere is dominated by men.
You just have to look at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, which is held each year in Davos, Switzerland.
The conference is attended by some of the most powerful people in politics, media, technology, academia, and celebrity. It’s an opportunity for the world’s most influential people to set the agenda.
But only 17% of participants at this year’s conference are women. In fact, the United Nations pointed out in its first HeForShe UN Women gender equality report that while men comprise 60% of the formal labour force, 95% of the CEOs of the world’s largest corporations are men.
Progress is being made, however. Barclays became the first bank in the world to sign up for HeForShe’s initiative to create a more gender-equal corporate landscape and the bank has actually achieved gender parity. Across Barclays, 51% of employees are women.
This is a big deal because Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs over 130,000 people. So adjusting the ratio of women to men is more than just a case of making a few minor changes and hires.
“As a leader, as a husband, and as a father I believe that enabling true gender equality is a responsibility we all share,” Jes Staley, CEO at Barclays, says in the report. (It is worth noting that Staley only joined the bank on December 1, after Barclays fired his predecessor Antony Jenkins.)
“At Barclays, we take that responsibility seriously, which is why Women in Leadership is among our stated organisational priorities.”
Tom King, CEO of Barclays Investment Bank added that: “The economic empowerment of women is rightly recognised as a significant factor in modern society. Rising female entrepreneurship, trends in wealth distribution, and increasing educational attainment among women are important influencers for the communities we serve.”
“We need to reflect that shifting diversity within our own organisation and influence the improvement towards gender balance in our industry. Hence, a core business focus for us continues to be ensuring women have a voice at every level of our organisation.”
Barclays is one of only five companies signed up for the HeForShe initiative to have already achieved gender parity. The other four are AccorHotels, PwC, McKinse & Company, and Tupperware Brands.
Gender parity is defined as between 40% and 60% of each gender in a given role or group, according to the HeForShe report.
Barclays and the other companies that have achieved gender parity are among 10 companies identified as “IMPACT Champions” by the UN for their commitment greater gender equality across their firms. The “IMPACT Champions” are:
- Koç Holding
- McKinsey & Company
- Schneider Electric
- Tupperware Brands
Across the 10 IMPACT Champions, 39.7% of staff are women.
But the UN’s HeForShe report noted that while great progress was made with gaining overall gender parity within Barclays, representation of women in senior leadership was nowhere near parity. Only 22% of senior management and 21% of the board are women.
“With senior leadership representation ranging from 11.0% to 33.0%, no company in this group has yet achieved parity in the top 6% of roles,” said the UN in the report.
“These figures are part of a global challenge around retention: as of 2013, women held 18.5% of senior management roles globally; amongst IMPACT Champions, this rises to 26.7%. While this group outperforms against global averages, we have set parity as our goal. To that end, the majority of companies have articulated specific targets around the representation of women in senior leadership.
“For representation of women on the Board of Directors at this level, only AccorHotels and Tupperware Brands have achieved parity today. Across IMPACT Champions, women hold 28.6% of Board seats. While we aspire to dramatically increase this number, it significantly exceeds the current global average, of 17.0%.”