2018 was a big year for gender equality; from politics to sport and everything in between, equality has consistently been on the social agenda. Headway has been made in the workplace, with increased scrutiny on the gender pay gap, companies like Adobe achieving equal pay globally and individual achievements such as Stacey Cunningham becoming the first woman to head the New York Stock Exchange being celebrated as a step forward. At Alpha, over 100 of our UK staff participated in our International Women’s Day 2018 campaign around #PressforProgress, with global participation reaching nearly 170 people across the globe. In November 2018, we explored ideas such as toxic masculinity and the increasing uptake of shared parental leave as part of our International Men’s Day campaign, initiating conversation across our global network of teams.
If there are so many good news stories from 2018, why is the focus on gender equality as important as ever? A quick look at the statistics will give you the answer; in the professional world, women are paid 23% less globally than their male counterparts and according to recent statistics, it will take approximately 202 years to close the current gender pay gap globally. With women effectively working ‘for free’ from 10th November 2018 to the end of the year, the on-going drive for balance is as necessary as ever. #BalanceForBetter, the core theme for this year’s International Women’s Day campaign, embodies this ideal and encourages all of us to be part of building a gender-balanced world.
So how are Alpha responding? We’re used to tackling professional challenges alongside our clients, but we’re once again daring ourselves to apply this attitude to our collective quest for balance. From completing Alpha’s unconscious bias training to spending time with the future generation exploring professions and roles that break gender stereotypes, Alpha people around the globe have started their #BalanceForBetter journey by logging their completed challenges. Only one week after the launch, we have collectively completed almost 125 challenges across 4 global regions; with 3 weeks to go, the conversation on gender parity within our business and the wider world is gaining momentum.
While we may experience the challenges facing the gender balance in the workplace, we are also supporting those who are subjected to institutional imbalance around services aligned to gender. Alpha’s Charity of the Year, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – or Doctors Without Borders – provide essential care throughout the world; in Afghanistan, MSF have been working to redress the balance in a country where healthcare infrastructure has been heavily affected by on-going conflict, leaving a severe shortage of maternal services for women. In 2017, MSF delivered over 70,000 babies in Afghanistan alone, providing essential care to those who are most vulnerable. As part of our #BalanceForBetter campaign, we are hosting a charity fun run and encouraging donations to raise money for this inspiring charity who are actively seeking change through their mission and values.
While each completed challenge in itself won’t change the world, as a group we can encourage gender parity within our own business, initiating a cascade of ideas to create a #BalanceForBetter in our wider network. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.