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  • Writer's pictureMarion Burchell

What initiatives or strategies do you believe can further promote gender equality and empowerment in business?

This is a critical issue that businesses will need to address. The business environment has shifted significantly in many countries from one of population growth to population stagnation and decline. The labour and skills shortage seen during the pandemic are a sign of the times. Older people account for 1/5 of the population in 17 countries today and by 2100 this is expected to grow to 61% of the population.

Many countries rely on skilled immigration to overcome workforce challenges. However more jobs than people mean we need to be thinking new workplace structures to accommodate those that want to work.

Our clients have seen a 20 – 60% increase in workload over the past 2 years which has not been commensurate with resourcing allocations.

This is unsustainable.

Technology will provide part of the answer, however in order for businesses to remain competitive, we need to re-think workplace practices. The job market is only going to become tighter and more competitive.

There are existing population cohorts ready, willing, and wanting the opportunity, including women, young people, and older workers. The issue is the discrimination they face in the workplace. A recent AARP survey showed that 64% of people believe older workers face age discrimination and 94% view it as commonplace. Ageism is particularly heightened for women who at age 55 and over are seen to be beyond their prime, whereas men in the same age category are viewed to be in peak performance.

Furthermore, the prevailing view of why women leave the workplace i.e. to care for their families, may actually be incorrect. An HBR study found that 90% of women left due to workplace problems, specifically frustration and long hours. Those that went part time found it problematic as they worked significantly longer hours without any reflection in their pay.

Businesses that will be successful in the future will be those that ask the hard questions around their own workplace practices, and design new ways of working that are more reflective of a contemporary workforce and workplace. They will be the ones that win the competition for skilled people, for which women will be integral.

About Marion

Marion is a highly experienced and accomplished strategy, innovation and leadership professional with a focus on the enterprise and government sectors. She is a trusted advisor to CEOs and senior executives, providing practical and pragmatic solutions to the challenges they face. Marion is the Managing Director at Azolla Holdings Pty Ltd, a Board member, thought leader and member of an international entrepreneur association.


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