I recently had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on equality as a safe bet for pioneering companies. Held as part of the 3rd GAES Equality Conference, the roundtable brought together several prominent experts from business and academia.
At the session, the speakers expressed several different points of view on the topic of gender equality in the business world. According to Conchita Gassó, president of the GAES Equality Committee, 70% of GAES employees are women. Ms. Gassó shared specific examples that show how equality in the workplace improves productivity and efficiency. Francina Vila, Councillor for Women and Civil Rights for the City of Barcelona, argued in favour of promoting co-responsibility, enabling companies to implement their own equality plans. The designer Rosa Clará noted that, although 80% of her employees are women, she still has a long way to go in terms of increasing the presence of women in her company’s upper management (33% women). Clinical psychologist and ESADE Lecturer Imma Puig, remarking that performance and equality should go hand-in-hand, proposed replacing the concept of “equality” with “equivalence among people”, which, she said, is more respectful of each individual’s uniqueness.
The panel also included Manel Giménez, Organisation and Personnel Director at GAES. Mr. Giménez discussed the equality and compatibility policies that GAES is applying in order to boost job satisfaction. He explained that the company has adopted policies such as flexible scheduling, telecommuting two days per week, and an anti-gender-discrimination plan featuring specific objectives such as increasing the number of women in executive posts.
The audience members had the chance to reflect on an interesting fact: that the promotion of diversity is, for companies, an investment and a commitment to the future. But why? Because innovation occurs in teams that are diverse. In other words, diversity is clearly a key driver of creativity and innovation in companies. To achieve diversity, however, companies must implement specific policies. Numerous pioneering companies – Microsoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers and many others – have done just that. The future is diversity.