April - SDG no. 5 “Gender equality”

This month we will look at the SDG number 5 “Gender equality”, a demanding and ambitious task that still lies ahead of companies. At Mazars in Denmark, we strongly believe that moving forward on this capital issue is not about finding ways for women to better fit into the current business model, but rather to rethink the model entirely, as to create inclusive places to work for all.

The goal is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Gender equality is the foundation for a sustainable world. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population, which also means half of the potential. It is a basic human right to have gender equality, but women are still underrepresented at leadership level and in some families the household burden falls completely on them. This may result in less time in school or the workplace, therefore missing out on developing their personal skills. We need to turn this current situation around.

Similar to our other SDGs presented until now, Covid-19 has had a negative impact on SDG number 5. Domestic violence against women and girls is a known problem and it has risen in some countries during lockdown. There are also still discriminatory laws or social norms contributing to keeping women as the underrepresented gender.

Women are battling the pandemic and approximately 70% of the health and social workers are women. They are at the front line in this chaos, making sacrifices to help everyone. It is estimated that women spend three times as many hours in unpaid domestic and care work compared to men.

At Mazars, we have committed to SDG number 5 and every day we work towards changing the status quo. There are many studies that show the positive effect of achieving gender equality in the workplace, ensuring diversity of thought and practice in the workplace and society at large.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that achieving gender equality in the workplace could add $12trillion to global GDP by 2025. Research has shown, year after year, that companies in the top quartile for female participation in executive committees, outperformed their peers – at times by up to 55%.

As employers, corporations have a significant role to play in addressing the gender gap, particularly in areas of the world where public policy lacks in this regard. Mirroring the battle against climate change, corporations have a social responsibility to step up and tackle one of the defining issues of our time.

We believe accelerating diversity in the workplace is a shared responsibility; therefore, each member entity of our partnership is also in charge of and accountable for, setting its own objectives.

Globally our work has resulted in the following achievements:

  • Ensuring diversity in the workforce, more than 50% of our global workforce are women.
  • Women make up 44% of our governance bodies overall (members of our Group Executive Board and our Group Governance Council all together).
  • Our Group management team is composed of 57% women.
  • Implemented targets and incentives to increase number of female partners by 2025.
  • Annual Women Leaders Seminars have been held since 2016 to build and cultivate a female talent pipeline.
  • Developed with the Gender Balance Observatory a checklist for CEOs to assess whether their organisations have put in place gender equality actions (to be published in the 2021 edition of the Observatory’s Green Book and on our website).
  • Engaged our teams globally on IWD by joining the #ChooseToChallenge with our top executives making commitments.

In 2021, we have committed to do more. In December 2020, over 1100 partners voted for our new strategic plan. Gender equity is among the top ten priorities voted by our partnership, as our new four-year strategic plan contains clear goals, as well as a set of incentives and measures to help us achieve these goals.

“Real meritocracies make sure that all the talents have equal opportunities and therefore start from the same baseline. But this is not the case for women, who face many more barriers (external or internal) than men on their way to the top. We have to equalize the environment in which we work so that everyone has equality of chances – take out the barriers, remove the bias. Organisations need to foster inclusive mindsets, recognising that performance comes in different styles. And we have to accommodate for various constraints and needs, not just those of the established group. This is how we’ll build fairness in the system.”

Cécile Kossoff, Global leader of Diversity & Inclusion, Mazars group

Locally for Mazars in Denmark we have focused on:

  • Ensuring gender equality in management, including a female managing partner.
  • Board members is 50/50 split between female and male.
  • Following global initiatives and sending our top female talent to the Women Leaders Seminars.
  • Through partnerships, supported initiatives such as microloans for women in developing countries, focus on funding women entrepreneurs, contributed to networks and seminars regarding women in management.
  • Creating conditions for both men and women to exercise their right to maternity leave.

“I find that our blindness of privilege is the biggest obstacle to creating a diverse, including equal, workplace. Gender equality plays a key role in ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to contribute fully to the company and that we can benefit from the total human resources. Different life experiences, forms of communication, and priorities are crucial for long-term sustainable management”.

Pia Lillebæk, Managing partner, State-authorised public accountant, Mazars in Denmark

The task before us is not to find ways for women to better fit the current business model, but rather to rethink the model entirely and in doing so, create inclusive places to work. Diverse teams perform better. Any business that wants to be competitive and achieve sustainable development in the coming years needs to end gender inequality now.