Why Investing in Gender Equality is Crucial for Your Business’s Future

Brands that are willing to go beyond the baseline "we believe in gender equality" and really take a stand can attract an even more loyal customer base.

We just saw another International Women’s Day come and go, and the interest in this 100-year-old holiday is greater than ever.

For proof, just look to Google’s Think with Google blog. According to Google’s data, “International Women’s Day reached peak search interest in March 2017–the same month that global search interest in gender equality reached its highest point.”

Given the prevalence of women’s issues in the overall cultural conversation – from the #MeToo movement, to the continued push for equal pay, to the ongoing conversations about how race and gender are intertwined – it’s not surprising to learn that terms related to gender equality, feminism, and women’s rights are becoming more prevalent in search.

So how does this affect the working world? As business owners, entrepreneurs, and members of the C-suite, what are we doing to commit to gender equality in our own workplaces – and what will it mean for our businesses if we don’t?

Gender equality is the way of the future.

The huge interest in gender equality that we’re seeing play out across social media and search, as well as traditional media, isn’t just a passing trend.

Gender equality is an important issue for Millennials, especially in the workplace. Back in 2013, The Atlantic reported that the generational characteristic that would have the most impact on American’s daily lives was the Millennial belief that society did not have any inherently male or female roles.

More recently, in 2017, a report by the Council on Contemporary Families found that Millennials think gender equality in the workplace is more important than previous generations, and are more likely to believe that working mothers can have as strong a relationship with their children as non-working mothers.

These are the people who will be filling out the country’s C-suites in the next 5, 10, or 15 years, and you can bet that the companies they build will reflect their belief that women and men should be able to perform the same jobs, for the same pay.

Commitment to gender equality is not just the right thing to do – it can be a key differentiator between you and a competitor.

Those future CEOs and CMOs are also the people whom you need today, right now to run your marketing campaigns, grow your customer base, and close your business deals.

When you’re recruiting the best and brightest, potential employees will be looking at your values and culture.

Do you have women in leadership roles?

Do you pay your female and male employees the same salaries for the same jobs?

Is your culture inclusive and respectful of women, people of color, and other groups?

If an incredible potential employee is choosing between working for you or working for your competitor, and all other things are equal, your track record and policies on gender equality could be the deciding factor.

The same is true of your customers. Transparency is huge for today’s connected consumer – they want to trust the brands they’re doing business with, and the only way to build that trust is to be open and honest about who you are and what you do.

Brands that are willing to go beyond the baseline “we believe in gender equality” and really take a stand can attract an even more loyal customer base. These businesses implement policies that allow them to actively work toward advancing gender equality, whether in their own hiring and salary practices, or in their industry at large.

Working toward greater gender equality is not only a moral imperative for today’s businesses. It’s also crucial if you want to stay relevant and competitive in today’s marketplace. For more, read my post “How Female CEOs Can Empower Their Female Employees? By Doing These 3 Things.”

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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