I’m currently listening to a book called The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart. Thank you @Sally Bibb for recommending. I’m only a few chapters in and am (unsurprisingly) shocked by the examples of the authority gap. But what is so brilliant is that there are now numbers backed up by statistics and studies that confirm what we have all recognised anecdotally for years. It backs up so many examples of the gender inequality and authority gap issues @ Giles Lury and I highlighted in the Wonder Women book – but The Authority Gap draws from a remarkable wealth of research (the bibliography alone is 31 pages long) from academic studies and polling data.
It’s not a zero-sum game: we all gain from narrowing the authority gap
I will write a full book review when I have finished it, but in the meantime, I’d like to highlight Chapter 4 entitled, ‘It’s not a zero-sum game: we all gain from narrowing the authority gap’ – because I got very excited when I listened to this!
Closing the authority gap is not the great sacrifice that men may fear; it’s not about women gaining and men losing. Greater gender equality is in the interests of all of us and will help us to get the lives we all want to live. Research shows that there are significant gains in the home, the workplace, the wider economy, and the planet.
It’s a myth that gender equality provides benefits for women only – men are twice as likely to be happy
If a man shows equal respect towards a woman, listens to what she has to say (refrains from being patronising and superior), both will feel more satisfied, the relationship will be better, resulting in happier and healthier lives. Fathers who take parental leave, play a bigger role in their children’s lives, take equal responsibility for the domestic load, free up women to advance at work, are more likely to transform their own lives (escaping the rigid constraints of traditional masculinity) as well as the lives of women and the next generation. In gender equal countries and US states, men are less likely to get divorced, their chances of dying a violent death are almost halved, less likely to commit suicide, less likely to be violent towards women and children.
Benefits in the workplace that lead to higher profitability and pay rises for men
The chapter talks about a McKinsey study of over 1,000 organisations which cites that gender diverse companies are 25% more likely to earn above average profits. Women have high standards (they often have to work twice as hard as men to succeed), they’re more professional, conduct themselves better, they are more likely to treat their colleagues with equal respect, they are good at building relationships, empowering teams, and are more likely to be supportive and promote opportunities for others. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that companies that have women in senior roles are more likely to be high performing.
And if companies are performing well everyone benefits – greater profitability leads to more jobs and better pay for men and for women.
The potential for gender equality to boost the world’s economy
When Christine Lagarde conducted a piece of research when she was at the IMF (International Monetary Fund) it showed that if women’s employment equalled men’s, economies would be more resilient and economic growth would be higher. Estimates show that, for those countries in the bottom half of gender inequality, closing the gender gap in employment could increase GDP by an average of 35 percent—of which 7–8 percentage points are productivity gains due to gender diversity. Adding one more woman in a firm’s senior management or corporate board—while keeping the size of the board unchanged—is associated with an 8–13 basis point higher return on assets. If banks and financial supervisors increased the share of women in senior positions, the banking sector would be more stable too.
We can all be happier, healthier, richer, more fulfilled, better governed and we might even save the planet.
The chapter goes on to discuss the benefits of greater political authority leading to happier societies, fewer wars and the gender equality implications for the planet are also huge.
The book is a must read for both men and women.