Gender equality in the workplace starts at the top | Emma Codd, Global Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Deloitte
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The Better Boards Podcast Series
Gender equality in the workplace starts at the top | Emma Codd, Global Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Deloitte
Jul 06, 2023
Dr Sabine Dembkowski

In this podcast, Dr Sabine Dembkowski, Founder and Managing Partner of Better Boards, discusses Deloitt´s Women @ Work report and what it means for board members, leadership, and anyone working to drive change and achieve true gender equity in the workplace with Emma Codd, Global Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for the professional services firm Deloitte. 

"The findings are deeply concerning when it comes to the actual ability to attract and retain women"
Emma starts by highlighting that the third Women@Work report is representative across 10 countries and 5000 women within the workplace in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, the UK, and the US. Results were "deeply concerning". Many countries have targets or quotas for the representation of women on boards, and data shows that diverse businesses perform better, but to meet those targets, you need to attract and retain women.  

"That is an improvement, but I hate using the word improvement because it feels wrong to be using it when the data that sits under that is still so concerning and is still so poor"
Emma describes how last year, the report found some deeply concerning data around three areas - burnout, non-inclusive behaviour, and hybrid working exclusion. Things have improved this year in these three areas, but Emma emphasises this improvement is from a very poor position. 

"These women are encountering these behaviours, and under half of them are actually not reporting it to anybody"
Emma explains that non-inclusive behaviours are microaggressions or harassment. Microaggressions are often unintended, seemingly small behaviours that exclude an individual. They include jokes at someone else's expense, comments about how you identify, etc. The challenge is that while these may be unintended, they can deeply impact the individual, particularly when it happens for a prolonged period. 

"The challenge, though, is that you when you don't know if there are a low number of reports, you don't know if that's because people simply aren't reporting"
Emma notes that the top reason for not reporting is that women didn't feel it would be seen as serious, or that it was serious enough to warrant reporting. That has to stop. Usually, the relevant executives, such as the Chief DEI officer, should be in front of the board regularly and disclose how many reports of non-inclusive behaviour there are. When things go horribly wrong, people often go to the media or onto social media because they feel this is the only option left to them. 

"For over half of the women, we polled their mental health is a top concern"
Mental health and issues around menstruation and menopause are impacting women in the workplace, Emma says. From a mental health perspective, the data last year was so high that despite that improvement, it is still deeply concerning. Mental health was a top concern for over half the women polled. Around a third are burnt out, and their stress is higher than a year ago. Emma describes one worrying issue that has significantly worsened from last year – the term "always on." Only a third of the women polled said they feel they can switch off from work.

The three key takeaways for effective boards are:
1.      Gender equality is a matter for boards. This is not something that is a "nice to have" but a business imperative.
     Look at the results and data of the report, as within it are a small number of women that work for companies getting it right.
     The report provides the insight needed to ask the questions you need to ask within the organisation and make sure that you are able to make those targets and quotas.