Gender parity, now is the time to act

Gender parity, now is the time to act

The challenge

A lack of parity and inclusion is both ethically wrong and bad for business. It severely undermines the ability of teams to innovate, ‘the coming together of people of different ethnicities with different experiences in cities and societies is a key driver of innovation’ (The World Economic Forum). There is a strong body of research highlighting the challenges faced by women in the workplace. As BYU political-science professor Jessica R. Preece states based upon recent research, ‘women are systematically seen as less authoritative. And their influence is systematically lower. And they’re speaking less. And when they’re speaking up, they’re not being listened to as much, and they are being interrupted more.’

Progress on gender equality is slow - the latest World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report now estimates a staggering 257 years to close the gap on economic participation for women. And COVID could make things significantly worse: the latest McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2020 report states that, ‘More than one in four women are contemplating what many would have considered unthinkable just six months ago: downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. This is an emergency.’ And, as the World Economic Forum states: ‘bias, often in the form of false narratives about women, continues to be ingrained in our workplaces, our policies and our talent discussions about women and how to fill senior roles.’

Now is the time to act.

Catalysing and accelerating progress

Achieving gender parity requires organisations to individually take a hard look at their culture, policies, procedures and ways of working. Sources of gender bias are pernicious and everywhere. To catalyse change will involve an open and honest conversation, that gives a voice to those with lived experience of the problem and the greatest insights into what needs to change.

But this conversation is not sufficient. It needs to be backed by practical action and change. Understanding what is currently broken must be followed by substantive solutions and the necessary actions to move forward. Senior sponsorship, a compelling and emotive case for change and ownership of the actions to execute are key. And this journey must carefully consider the impact of COVID-19 and it’s profound implications for the world of work. The crisis has prompted companies to rethink fundamental beliefs about how work is performed, challenging a series of orthodoxies about the nature of remote work.

A template that translates words into action

To ensure that these much needed conversations can be transformed into actionable outputs, Axis has teamed up with Unida, a leading diversity consultancy, to create a workshop template specifically designed to drive inclusive, effective and engaging collaboration around gender parity.

The template has been created by leveraging Unida’s research on women's career progression in the professional service industry, that can be accessed here, and a serie of engaging activities to sparkle discussion and collaboration. The agenda is based on 4 different phases - these will allow the facilitator and participants to frame the context of the issue, take a structured approach to identify ideas for change against the themes defined, prioritise them and, finally, identify next steps to initiate actual change.

A dedicated guide, informed by trial workshops run with female leaders from several leading consultancies is available here to help you shape an amazing session. This includes key steps and tips to prepare the workshop ahead of the event, refine the facilitation during the session, and maximise the effect of the workshop once it is completed. The guide ensures anyone that aims at fostering reflection and change around gender parity in their workplace will be able to use the template and lead an engaging session, no matter what their facilitation experience and skills are.

The template, combined with Axis’ proven step-by-step facilitation method and easy to use smartphone interface, enables a collaboration process where every voice is heard, ideas are collectively prioritised and actions are captured and owned. The template is available for free and without limitations to all our users.

We are looking forward to hearing about your experience!

This is the start of a new journey for Axis, and we are looking for organisations to work with us to co-create more of these templates, so if you would like to get involved please get in touch with Axis' inclusion and diversity lead Giulia via

Save time and maximise impact with every meeting, workshop and event

Save time and maximise impact with every meeting, workshop and event

Smartphone participationEvery idea shared