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INSEAD focuses on Gender Inequity Issues at ChangeNOW 2022

For the fourth consecutive year, INSEAD was the major academic partner of the ChangeNOW Summit (19th May – 21st May). At the world’s largest event for the planet, with more than 33,000 participants in person from 117 countries and 742 million online views, INSEAD unveiled brand new academic research at the Grand Palais Ephemere.

This year’s edition of ChangeNOW, founded by INSEAD Alumni, brought together 1000 solutions to solve the world’s most pressing issues. Working in partnership with the summit, INSEAD focused on highlighting the issue of Gender Inequity within the workplace as a result of COVID-19. On Saturday May 21st, INSEAD hosted the “Gender and the Future of Work” forum, conceived in collaboration with the INSEAD Gender Initiative and Cartier Women’s Initiative, to unveil brand new research on this subject.

Before our own forum got underway, on Thursday 19th May, Hoffmann Institute for Business and Society Executive Director, Katell Le Goulven moderated the ”Women for Change” panel, sponsored by HeForShe and UN Women, at the Sunrise Stage alongside Wingee Sampaio, Global Program Director of Cartier Women’s Initiative. Flora Donsimoni, Head of Southern Europe at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Marco Nannini, CEO and Vice President of Impact Hub and Angels4Women also participated. This session set the scene reminding us that inequity is still present in the workplace. In the US, for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes only 77 cents. In addition to lesser pay, women still carry household work by 2.8 times more compared to their male counterparts. During the panel, Sampaio spoke to needing to fix the financing gap for female entrepreneurs, a sentiment that would be echoed during our own forum.

“We need to fix the financing gap for female entrepreneurs. We are currently leaving behind half of the world’s entrepreneurs. To realise women’s potential is realising the world’s potential. For every dollar invested: female entrepreneurs created 78 cents in revenue and men made 31 cents.” – Wingee Sampaio

With this fresh in mind, on Saturday the 21st faculty and alumni, impact entrepreneurs and other practitioners convened to take part in our “Gender and the Future of Work” Forum. Designed in the style of an INSEAD executive education programme, combining interactive sessions such as live polls and discussions on latest research findings, the forum offered specific interventions to make participating organisations more gender-inclusive in the aftermath of the COVID-19 disruption.​

Dr Vinika Devasar Rao, Executive Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative, opened the forum by revealing new research results from an international survey of INSEAD Alumni with over 6000 participants. The survey, by the INSEAD Gender Initiative, aimed at understanding women’s professional experiences relative to men, exploring gender related and cultural differences, and the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic on gender balance. The results found that;

  • Women were more likely than men (5.6% vs 3.6%) to have their jobs cut during COVID-19 due to budget cuts.
  • Women were more likely to scale back or quit their jobs due to increased family care (6.4% vs 3.7%).
  • Whilst men and women were equally called upon to fulfil extra work, the type of work varied drastically. Men were more likely to be involved in direct crisis management, whereas women were called upon in a more secondary capacity, such as covering for a sick colleague.

The survey participants being INSEAD Alumni, mostly hold higher positions within companies. The forum showed us that even with secure managerial positions women are being disproportionately affected. From this new research, we know it is imperative to prevent the COVID-19 disruption continuing to reverse and hinder decades of progress towards gender balance and equity in the workplace. Too often the burden falls on the female to be the continuing driving force for equity. Dirk Luyten, Managing Director of Levante Capital Management and Member of the Executive Committee of the INSEAD Women in Business Alumni Club, highlighted three actionable points that everyone can take back to their company:

  1. Actively work to learn about your unconscious bias.
  2. Embed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) into Key Perfomance Indicators. To ensure accountability, there needs to be measurement.
  3. Work with both a bottom up and top-down approach to DEI.

After the survey results, the audience had time to respond and voice their own experiences, challenges, and opinions. Facilitated through a live poll, forum attendees were asked questions like: “Which aspect of the covid disruption challenges that disproportionately impacted women are you most motivated to ChangeNOW?” Building upon the live poll answers, the audience was asked to work in pairs to think of solutions to the challenges presented. Solutions from the audience called for many initiatives such as actively promoting women in higher roles to ensuring equal paternity leave.

To bring together the many findings, the forum ended with a panel consisting of academics and practitioners. One interesting point the panel discussed from the survey focused on how women participants were more likely than men to identify themselves as a social impact leader and play a role in social impact initiatives. Wingee Sampaio emphasised how these female social impact entrepreneurs faced a ‘triple burden’ during COVID-19 as they tended to have smaller businesses, that were naturally more cyclical by nature combined with increased responsibility for childcare.

It was Morgan Stanley’s Managing Director and Change Leadership, Lucy Quist who astutely reminded the audience that “Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) too often looks only at what is visible such as gender or race. But a lot of diversity is invisible. We need to drive towards recognising the whole individual not just what can be seen.” As the panel unfolded, it became clear that greater education was needed on DEI, and that this awareness raising needs to happen early on within the career of an individual. INSEAD Professor Zoe Kinias spoke on how education can play a role. Kinias stated that business schools need to “create an environment to develop future female business leaders” and push for allyship as schools have “a responsibility to educate both genders to be inclusive as business leaders.”

We would like to thank the team at ChangeNOW, the INSEAD Gender Initiative and the Cartier Women’s Initiative. Thank you to Dr Vinika Rao and Professor Zoe Kinias, to our panel, the INSEAD Women in Business club, our MBAs Evgenia Vasilyeva, PMP Pierre Alexandre AbeelAnne Carter and the entire INSEAD Business & Society team!