80% of women call for an end to systemic discrimination
Mars Incorporated recently released the results of a groundbreaking new listening study, # HereTo Be Heard, with an emphasis on raising the voice of women. Commissioning such a study might seem odd from a CPG company historically known for its candy production, but women have always played an important role in the leadership of Mars. Speaking to Stefanie Straub, vice president and general counsel of Mars Incorporated, she explained that Mars feels responsible for being a leading global company on gender equality and recognizes that a more inclusive society cannot t is not only good for its employees, but also for businesses and economies in general. . When COVID caused a global pandemic, Mars decided as a business that it wanted to do more to influence broader changes.
#HereToBeHeard asked over 10,000 women in 88 countries a deceptively simple question: What needs to change for more women to reach their full potential?
Their responses were deeply personal and came from a wide range of women of all races, generations, origins and cultures. Their responses were also complex, highlighting many of the challenges women face at work and at home that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Mars then worked with BSR and a team of scientists from Oxford University’s Said Business School to analyze the women’s responses and group them into eight key themes.
The number one theme shared by 80% of respondents: We must end systemic discrimination and harmful gender stereotypes.
As one participant shared: “A new system is needed: a system where women are conceived as strong, respected and with the same abilities as any human being, without any prejudice. Different options are needed for every woman, including transgender, native, immigrant, single mothers. »- Mexico, 18-24 years old, independent, mixed race / ethnic, bisexual
Hear the voices directly of these women. You can clearly hear their passion, their desire for change, and the pain they feel navigating the current system. To make matters worse, according to the World Economic Forum, the pandemic has delayed the trajectory to close the gender gap by a generation, go from 100 years to now 136. Just not because the solutions don’t exist, but that in order to make a difference on gender equity, we need to tackle systemic failures from top to bottom.
The whole system must evolve, from government policies to the creation of businesses and organizations where women can thrive at home, where individuals must change their expectations in terms of gender roles and management of care. and unpaid work.
Straub has personally experienced these challenges in his own life, juggling his professional demands and those of his family. She attributes her success to the support she has received from her manager and the flexibility she has been given in her professional life. However, Straub is adamant that the opportunity for women to reach their full potential should not hinge on the luck of winning the Bosses Lottery, but rather should be embedded in their organization’s culture.
As part of a global business, Straub recognizes the complexity businesses face when taking a holistic approach, and she urges business leaders to listen to the personal stories and voices of their own employees. They are essential to understand and unlock all the areas that hold back women in their organizations.
However, Straub cautions companies not to just pick one theme or area to tackle, but to engage in a holistic approach across all themes. In #HereToBeHeard, the overarching theme of ending systemic gender discrimination requires organizations to assess all key areas of their business system that contribute to this discrimination. The report urges companies to assess women’s equal career opportunities and decision-making power; how they support parents, work-life balance, and mental and physical well-being; and how they influence and support egalitarian learning and end harassment and gender-based violence.
In order for Mars to successfully take a holistic approach, they launched Full potential, a program that aims to effect change in their own workplace, in their supply communities and in the market in general. Mars uses this platform to define targeted standards for its organizations in all areas of its business and regions. They are then able to assess and learn from these standards to continue to adapt and make necessary changes at the site or local level.
Ending systemic discrimination in the workplace requires the commitment of business leaders to take a holistic approach and use strategic change management tools to change behaviors and mindsets at all levels. And it must be done in partnership with male leaders and employees.
One thing Straub found particularly interesting about the report’s findings is that 71% of those surveyed explained how men need to change. Men are the gatekeepers, participants repeated over and over again, and they can either be the ally and support that women need or the obstacle to change.
Another woman in the study shared, “Men need to change…. Men have to choose to be different on their own, and until that happens I think it will be very difficult for women to reach their full potential. handicap, physical handicap, black / African origin, heterosexual
We saw exactly how much of a barrier men can be this week in the United States when Sen. Joe Manchin, a 74-year-old white man, blocked the inclusion of paid family leave for millions of families in the plan. Build Back Better reconciliation law. The blow has been deeply personal for women who have once again been put at the mercy of a leader who does not understand what it is to have to choose between a paycheck and being able to take care of yourself, their newborn or sick child, or their elderly parent. .
For systemic change to occur, especially within companies, the changes must not only break down barriers for women, but also proactively change men’s behaviors. For example, paid parental leave programs offered by companies should be provided equally to biological and non-biological parents and the default expectation should be set that all new parents will take their full leave. When it comes to the flexibility of the workplace and the nature of where and when work is performed, companies need to ensure that they provide options for all employees. In addition, they must provide managers with the skills and time to manage and coach a hybrid team. Employee experiences, from onboarding to learning and upgrading performance management tools, must adapt to provide opportunities for all employees and reduce stigma against employees who work more often at distance.
These are just examples, and there is a lot of work to be done. As #HereToBeHeard The report demonstrates that companies must start by listening to the real stories of their employees and commit to taking a holistic and strategic approach to addressing the gender gap in their organizations.