Let's take a look back at the Gains and Losses for women economic actors this year (infographic at the end).
Women were/are more impacted by COVID-19–related economic effects because of existing gender inequalities.
Women—especially women of color—are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the crisis, stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security. while women with disabilities are more likely than any other group to feel stressed, burned out, and exhausted, says McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org.
Their recent 2020 Women in the Workplace study reveals that many female leaders feel like they’re “always on” now that the lines between work and home have blurred. They’re worried about their family’s health and finances. Burnout is a real issue and unpaid domestic and care work continues to fall disproportionately on women.
We felt this throughout our SheSyndicate community as well - thank you to everyone who was brave enough to share their stories of vulnerability with me!
At the senior leadership level, the pandemic is threatening to erase any gender balance gains made in Corporate America, which at the start of 2020 were already rather dismal (for reference, the share of women in SVP roles was 28 percent, and in the C-suite 21 percent).
In terms of power and decision making, no cracks in the glass ceiling globally. According to UN World's Women 2020 Trends and Statistics report, women held only 28% of managerial positions globally in 2019 – almost the same proportion as in 1995. And only 18% of enterprises surveyed had a female CEO in 2020. Among Fortune 500 corporations only 7.4%, or 37 CEOs, were women.
In saying this, it hasn't been all bad news...
We have made progress in politics. From Iceland (Katrín Jakobsdóttir) to Taiwan (Tsai Ing-wen) and from Germany (Angela Merkel) to New Zealand (Jacinda Ardern), female political leaders have been celebrated for their strong leadership throughout the crisis (see here, here and here). President-elect Joe Biden makes a public commitment to "build the most diverse US cabinet in history". Kamala Harris makes history as the first woman and woman of color as Vice President and Janet Yellen, becomes the first woman as Treasury Secretary. Globally, a recent UN report highlights women’s representation among cabinet ministers has quadrupled over the last 25 years but still remains well below parity at 22%.
Corporations have also been ramping up their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts (e.g. Citi and JP Morgan) and we've had some exciting board appointments this year, including Starbucks Corp. naming finance executive Mellody Hobson to lead its board as chair, making her one of the highest-profile Black directors in corporate America.
LPs, too, are demanding diversity & inclusion from their managers. In their 2020 Global Alternative Fund Survey, EY reported that while 57% of investors review the D&I composition of their managers, most funds report a lack of diversity amongst their front-office teams.
Investing with a gender lens is finally becoming mainstream in public markets. In January, Goldman Sachs announced that they won't take a company public unless they have at least one "diverse" board member. In December, NASDAQ similarly announced its push for greater diversity in a proposal to the SEC requiring a vast majority of its 3,000 companies listed on its exchange to have at least one woman and at least one person who identifies as either an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ on the board. And this isn't purely for altruistic reasons either, gender-balanced/diverse teams have a track record of outperformance. (As a side note, female fund managers beat men at stock picks this year - see Goldman's research and Forbes article).
Finally, having just finished off our first year of operation at SheSyndicate, I have been amazed at the ingenuity and resilience of women - as advocates for social and environmental outcomes, as impact leaders who have really stepped up this year to lead the charge on some pressing global challenges in health, economic justice, and racial equity (check out Equality Can't-Wait Challenge, SHEChangesClimate, and TechSavvy)
Thanks to all the women who have inspired me in my own impact work this year!