It’s time to put your money where your mouth is in the fight for gender equality.
The recent signing of Texas’ abortion law, which bans abortions after the first six weeks of the pregnancy and effectively places a bounty on anyone found to be breaking it, has rightly been condemned around the globe.
But it should also act as a reminder that the hard-won rights of women are easily overturned, even in apparently robust democracies.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s not only lawmakers who can erode those rights. According to a study by the Understanding Society, UK women spent 1.5 times as much time as men doing housework during lockdown, and nearly twice as much time doing homeschooling.
As a result, one in six working mothers reduced their employment hours and one in three working mothers adapted their work patterns.
Working fathers were five percentage points less likely to reduce working hours and seven percentage points less likely to adapt work patterns due to childcare/homeschooling than working mothers.
Of course, lockdown didn’t so much introduce new levels of inequality as reinforce them. In the UK, women earn an average of 15.5 per cent less than their male counterparts.
While that number drops to 7.4 per cent among full-time employees, it still indicates deep-seated inequalities. Further to this, just 6 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have a female chief executive, a number which hasn’t increased since 2017.
Even among chief executives, there is clear evidence of inequality between women and men.
According to digital coaching firm Ezra, the average male CEO in the UK earns around £5.3m, compared to £4.42m for women, meaning male chief executives earn 17 per cent more than their female counterparts.
All of this points to the fact that we still have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality.
As the father of two girls, I wonder how I can raise them to believe they can be anything they dream of in the face of stats like that. If we’re to have any chance of finally closing those gaps, we all have a lot of hard work to do.
Investment is no exception
The investment community is no exception in that regard. Just 19 per cent of board seats at portfolio companies owned by private equity firms are held by women, according to a study by HUI Research commissioned by the Swedish Private Equity & Venture Capital Association.
Bloomberg analysis from 2019, meanwhile, found that women fill only 8 per cent of senior investment roles globally at the 10 largest private equity firms.
This is despite the overwhelming evidence which shows that gender-smart investment strategies can help grow a company’s competitiveness, solidify its supply base, improve its human capital, and help build an overall enabling business environment.