Tipping the Balance
    Category: Column By : Andry Lie Read : 278 Date : Monday, April 09, 2018 - 23:38:26

    This year one of the big topics discussed in Davos was about women in leadership. Even though we are already transitioning to the fourth phase of the industrial revolution (4IR), women still do not get the proper recognition they deserve. Since 2014, Mercer has been actively promoting engagement of women in the workforce and leadership roles for women. The findings from Mercer’s “When Women Thrive” report shows that only about 65% of the female population participates in workforce. At all levels, women are under-represented. Women only make up about 20% of all executives.

    In latest paper on the gender earnings gap, published by the American Enterprise Institute, shows that Uber women drivers earn 7% less than their male counterparts—data drawn from analyzing 1.8 million drivers and 740 million Uber trips between January 2015 and March 2017 in 196 US cities. This finding is interesting because the study found that riders empirically don’t have a gender preference for Uber drivers. One of the biggest factors for the earnings gap is that female drivers have more to manage than male drivers. For example, some are caring for families, keeping them from working longer hours. The insight is not about pay equality, but due to multiple expectations placed on them.

    Indonesia has been promoting gender equality for decades. Indonesia became independent in 1945 but not until 1978 did the government establish the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection. In 2015, the Ministry issued a decree to increase the ratio of women in both the central and provincial legislature to 30%. Beforehand, the number was minuscule.

    In the business sector, the statistics are much better. Grant Thornton research from 2017, involving 5,500 respondents in 36 countries showed that in Indonesia, 46% women rise to senior leadership levels, an increase from only 36% in 2016. The distribution in Indonesia varies from CFO (20%), COO (14%), CIO (8%) and CEO (6%). At CEO level, however, Indonesia is below the global average (12%).

    What do these facts tell us? Should more women be promoted into leadership roles for the sake of balancing the gender ratio? Would that mean discrimination against male counterparts? A more objective look perhaps is to ask ourselves whether we can assess women’s potential capability and contribution justifiably given their other roles in life. A gender quota is no guarantee to help any organization perform as expected and vice versa. Nonetheless, a gender ratio is important, as it motivates action, and action is better than ideas.

    On April 21, we celebrate the birthday of Raden Adjeng Djojo Adhiningrat Kartini. She was known as an educator and started the women’s emancipation movement in Java. Some 139 years after Kartini’s birthday the road is still long and challenging while simultaneously it is imperative for women to get the recognition that they deserve. It is about time we start to think seriously to provide more room for women at the board level. Selamat hari Kartini!