How gender equality is a growth engine for the global economy

Greater gender inclusivity could have a big impact on individuals, companies’ bottom lines, the U.S. economy and the global economy.
Shot of a group of businesspeople sitting together in a meeting
Shot of a group of businesspeople sitting together in a meetingPeopleImages / Getty Images

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By Renee Morad

An investment in women is an investment in us all.

In fact, if U.S. companies hired and promoted women at the same rate as countries like Norway, the economy can grow by 8 percent, according to S&P Global.

The new statistic was highlighted in the financial services firm’s new #ChangePays campaign.

“To those who think that gender equality only benefits girls, the numbers tell a different story,” a young girl says in the campaign’s new video. Girls wearing red T-shirts and jeans bring compelling statistics visually to life by huddling together to form a piece of a pie chart.

Key findings include:

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  • Around the world, gender diverse companies are 15 percent likelier to earn more than their competitors, according to McKinsey & Company.
  • Just by adding more women to the workforce, the global GDP could go up by 26 percent according to McKinsey Global Institute.
  • In India alone, women could grow the economy by up to 60 percent, according to McKinsey Global Institute.
  • In the last 20 years, the revenue of women-owned U.S. companies has increased by 103 percent, according to American Express.

S&P Global compiled the data to show the profound impact that greater inclusivity could have for individuals, companies’ bottom lines, the U.S. economy and the global economy.

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions about gender equality is that it only benefits women, but the data shows that this is not true,” said Courtney Geduldig, executive vice president, public affairs at S&P Global. “Our data makes it clear that gender equality is the engine for the global workforce. Greater women participation in the workforce can make a greater impact on the economy.”

Andrés Tapia, global diversity and inclusion strategist at Korn Ferry, agreed. “The more that women who are educated can push their potential in the workplace, the more we can increase the number of paychecks and get the economy going. When people have more to spend, everyone benefits,” he said.

“Then, there’s the inclusion part,” Tapia added. “When women and men work together, studies show that they actually come up with better solutions, which is the basic premise of diversity in the workplace.” He explained that innovation comes from friction and the interactivity from people from all different backgrounds: male, female, introvert, extrovert, different ethnicities, generations and so on. “There’s so much power in that,” he said.

“The most significant statistic here is how much of a boost we’d see if women in the workforce were hired or promoted at the rate that women in countries like Norway are,” Geduldig mentioned. “The real superstars are the Nordic countries. They’ve had the support in place for years that we lag in the U.S., and that includes excellent parental support, elder care and healthcare.”

Tapia believes we still have a long way to go and that companies must look within their organizations to ensure that they’re not only opening doors for women but ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for them. “Sure, not enough women are going into fields like engineering, but one of the biggest reasons why women leave engineering is due to a hostile work environment,” he said.

As Geduldig explained, mentorship plays a huge role in advancing women in the workplace. “A lot of men are in leadership roles, and men need to mentor women to get them in those roles, but it’s also important that women take on the role of mentor and sponsorship to other women once they get there,” Geduldig said. “Reach way down into your organization—find the direct reports but also the women who are three levels down—who you believe will be the next generation of leaders, and mentor them,” she encouraged.

The importance of mentors

April 27, 201801:30

The mission of S&P Global’s #ChangePays video campaign is not only to move the conversation forward, but to get more companies committed to doing their part to build a more inclusive workplace. “I’m really glad we’re having this conversation and adding meat to it with these statistics,” Geduldig said. “Elevating the conversation, raising the awareness and starting to ask people to make commitments is extremely important.”

Like many women, it’s also a personal matter to Geduldig. “My mother and grandmother were both working single women, and I know that one of the things that is really significant when you yourself are a working woman and mother is the ability to see what sacrifices the women before you have made to pave the way for what you are able to do,” she said. She wants to do her part to pave the way for the younger generations of females, including her daughter.

S&P Global has put its gender equality goals into practice. There are currently four female board members, and the company’s 5,000-member employee resource group called WINS, which stands for Women’s Initiative for Networking and Success, delivers programming that builds leadership competencies and increases opportunities for female employees.

Just as is explained in the video’s concluding statement, “It pays for us [females] to have a bigger piece of the pie.”