Female leadership so we don't have to wait 135 years to achieve equality

Photo: Female leadership so we don't have to wait 135 years to achieve equality. Credit: Unsplash.

By Yaiza Oliva

By 2157, gender inequalities will be on the verge of disappearing. As predicted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it will take more than 135 years for the UN to complete its fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): to achieve equality and empowerment for all women and girls. In line with achieving this goal, the UN has set a series of targets, including “ensuring women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership“. 

The deadline for achieving the SDGs is 2030. As of today, taking into account data from the latest World Economic Forum report, we have achieved 68% of the target. Despite the fact that the consequences of COVID-19 have taken us almost a generation away from the goal, there has been a lot of progress in the world of work in recent years. This is not only a human rights issue, but also beneficial for business

The UN recognizes that companies with diverse representation benefit from a more efficient organization and a vision that complements that of male leadership and enriches the team. Gabriela Uriarte, director of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, insisted on this idea during the Webinar Women Leaders of Tomorrow organized by Opinno. Uriarte advocates that when there is diversity in teams, especially in those where decisions are made, a greater proximity to the client and their needs is achieved. “There is no doubt that diversity adds value,” she concludes.

Breaking through the glass ceiling

The 2021 Diversity wins report, the third in the series from the consulting firm McKinsey, concludes that companies with 30% of women in management positions are more likely to outperform their peers in the market. This percentage increases to 50% in Opinno's team, where women are specialists in innovation, talent, strategy, sustainability and agile work methodologies. Women like Irene Martín, director of business development, who noted the extensive networks of women as “the key to driving female leadership” in an interview after moderating the #WeMadrid Congress 2021 at the Caixaforum.  

Today, women are better educated than ever before, and in recent years they have been taking over managerial positions and positions of responsibility. Nonetheless, their presence in decision-making positions still lags far behind that of men. To illustrate this phenomenon, the writer and consultant Marilyn Loden defined this phenomenon in 1978 as the “glass ceiling“: the invisible barrier that prevents women from making professional progress in companies.  

Last year, women accounted for 30.7% of the Boards of Directors for Ibex-35 companies as a whole, a 3 point higher percentage than in the previous year. This continues the upward trend in recent years: in 2015 this figure was just 18%.   

Female leaders in IBEX 35 companies

Alliances between female executives and board members, as Irene Martín pointed out, are a good plan of action to combat the glass ceiling. There are several examples of this type of partnership. Firstly, Eje&Con, an association that Opinno collaborates with, has the aim of incorporating new female executives into the market on the basis of their professional quality. Another example of this type of inclusive partnership developed by the consultancy firm is Women Evolution, a company that organizes events and networking for women.

This type of initiative, combined with a business strategy based on the values of diversity and inclusion, explains the progress in equality that we have witnessed in recent years. According to Grant Thornton's Female Executives 2021 study, last year nine out of 10 companies worldwide had at least one woman in their management teams. By comparison, only 66% of companies had a female leader in 2017. On International Women's Day, we commemorate the journey and celebrate this trend towards eradicating the gender gap.