SAADIA ZAHIDI Managing Director and Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new barriers to building inclusive and prosperous economies and societies. Pre-existing gender gaps have amplified the crisis asymmetrically between men and women, even as women have been at the frontlines of managing the crisis as essential workers. The hardest hit sectors by lockdowns and rapid digitalization are those where women are more frequently employed. Combined with the additional pressures of providing care in the home, the crisis has halted progress toward gender parity in several economies and industries.
Gender-sensitive recovery strategies will be critical in making up ground lost during 2020 to prevent long-term scarring in the labour market. Leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to build more resilient and gender-equal economies by investing in inclusive workplaces, creating more equitable care systems, advancing women’s rise to leadership positions, applying a gender lens to reskilling and redeployment and embedding gender parity into the future of work.
At the World Economic Forum, the Centre for the New Economy and Society is supplementing research into gender gaps with a growing portfolio of initiatives. Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators work with advanced and developing economies to create public-private collaborations for rapid acceleration to economic parity, focusing on increasing women’s participation in the workforce, closing the gender pay gap, and helping more women advance into leadership roles and develop in-demand skills. The Hardwiring Gender Parity in the Future of Work initiative is seeking commitments from businesses with the ambition to embed parity into the fastest growing emerging professions.
This year’s report aims to keep the focus on consistent measurement of gender gaps while providing new data to point to emerging and concerning trends in the labour market so that we can proactively address them. We are delighted to feature in this report a special collaboration with LinkedIn and Ipsos, who have provided unique data and new measures to track gender gaps.
We are deeply grateful to the Centre for the New Economy and Society Stewardship Board members for their leadership of this agenda, to the over 100 partners of the Centre and the expert guidance of Global Future Councils and Chief Diversity Officers, and to a range of national ministries of economy, education and labour. On behalf of the Forum, we would like to express our gratitude to Roberto Crotti, Kusum Kali Pal and Vesselina Ratcheva for their leadership of this project. We would also like to thank Eoin O Cathasaigh for his support of this project at the World Economic Forum.
We hope that this report will serve as a call to action to leaders to embed gender parity as a central goal of our policies and practices to manage the post-pandemic recovery, to the benefit of our economies and our societies.