“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”
- Jane Goodall
Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day, both at OpenText and in the world at large. It is a day to recognize the significant strides we have made so far and look forward with the resolve that we can do better. Diversity, inclusion and equity are, at minimum, business imperatives—but even more importantly, they are essential to creating a future that is centered on innovation and liberty. This is the future we at OpenText are building; within our company, within the technology industry.
I believe deeply that it is about culture-add, NOT, culture-fit.
#EachforEqual is this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, based on the idea of “collective individualism.” #EachforEqual challenges every one of us to make a difference, by confronting stereotypes, broadening perceptions, speaking out, improving situations and celebrating women’s achievements. Not just today but always. It is these everyday actions that can have the biggest impact. A world full of people making ripples will crescendo into a collective wave of change.
Top 5 Global Gender Equity Trends
Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are 17 goals designed to help us solve the top challenges facing the world today and create a better future for everyone. The fact that gender equity is on this list not only speaks to how important the issue is, but how far we still have to go.
In light of this, let’s take a look at five of the top trends for women’s empowerment—and the inspiring progress that is being made around the world.
1. Women’s Suffrage
It has only been about 100 years since (some) women first gained the right to vote in (some) countries. In that time, women’s suffrage has made huge strides. Women can now vote everywhere in the world (except in the Vatican City and Brunei, the latter of which has not held national elections since 1962), bringing us much closer to true equity.
Women voting is essential for a fair and equal democracy. But so is women’s participation in politics and representation in positions of power. Although we are making progress here, we have a long road ahead. Women still face bias, discrimination and higher standards when running for office.
Between 2010 and 2019, the number of female Congress members in the US increased by 40% …but women still make up only 24% of Congress. This number reflects the global average for women in parliament—up to 25% from 11.3% in 1995.
3. Education and Literacy
Education is critical—a foundational element—for empowering women and girls. Fortunately, this is an area where we have drastically narrowed the gaps. According to the World Economic Forum, the worldwide educational attainment gap is at just 4.4%. Thirty-six countries have now reached full parity and another 49 have closed at least 99% of the gap. In the US, women earn more degrees than men across all levels of higher education (bachelors, masters and doctorates).
Literacy rates, too, have almost equalized.
4. The Pay Gap
I am pleased to say that the pay gap is unequivocally shrinking. In 1960, women in the US earned on average 40% less than men. As of 2018, it was down to only 15% according to Pew Research. While this is still an unacceptable difference, the trend is very encouraging. The world can change this overnight, and at OpenText, we operate at equal pay for equal work.
5. Women on the Board and in the C-suite
The number of women in senior leadership has grown significantly, even just within the past few years. In 2015, only 29% of companies had at least three women in their C-suite. Now, it is 44%.
Likewise, over three-quarters of boards globally now include at least one woman. And every year, women are holding more and more board seats in large companies. In 2019, women held 20.4% of the board seats of R3000 companies, an increase from 17.7% in 2018. The trend is clear.
Progress Every Day at OpenText
At OpenText, we are committed to making a difference. Positive change is not to be found in “the next big program”—instead, it must be in an organization’s culture and DNA. It must be embedded in everyday operations, attitudes and even technologies.
We are working to make progress part of our everyday DNA by:
Ensuring representation on our Board. Two years ago, OpenText joined the 30% Club, which helps to support women at all levels, particularly in senior management and the boardroom. We are proud to support their goal of reaching 30% of board seats and C-Suites held by women by 2022.
Challenging bias in artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence (AI) has tremendous potential to herald a new era of fairness and equitable decision making. In theory, this technology could use data and insights to empower all people, especially those who have been systemically marginalized.
OpenText is taking great care to ensure our AI, Magellan, is free from harmful biases. We do this with carefully selected datasets where personal information is pseudonymized, human supervision over AI training, regular bias audits to identify and remove hidden biases, and a transparent and collaborative approach.
Fostering girls and women in STEM. Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. And it is not for lack of interest. We need to encourage and provide opportunities for girls and women in STEM. OpenText hosts Hour of Code events around the world, teaching code to over 500 children annually to encourage more students to embrace their curiosity and love of STEM.
Hour of Code 2019
We are also proud sponsors of the Grace Hopper Initiative, sending a number of incredibly talented delegates to both Grace Hopper Celebration in India and Grace Hopper Celebration in Florida. In India, we leveraged this forum to attract new talent by setting up a recruitment booth to engage attendees, answer questions and promote our company. I am so proud of all our delegates.
And this year we will be hosting a Women in STEM Roundtable with Catalyst at our Waterloo, Canada headquarters at the end of the month. We invite all business leaders, HR professionals and D&I professionals to join us to discuss the barriers holding women back in STEM fields and how we can reverse those trends.
Making diversity a part of a company’s culture and DNA requires commitment throughout the company. As you can see in OpenText’s video for International Women’s Day 2020, our amazing employees around the world are committed to positive change:
Happy International Women’s Day from @OpenText! Check out the latest blog from our CEO @markbarrenechea to see how we work to be #EachforEqual every day. https://t.co/SOYzIiM1JQ #IWD2020 pic.twitter.com/IUTPJG1clf
— OpenText (@OpenText) March 9, 2020
We are #EachforEqual, and each of us has a role to play. Together, we will put a dent in the universe.