Although recent years have seen progress on, for example, female presentation in leadership positions, the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare and deepened already existing inequities:
- Women account for 70% of frontline workers – and therefore face higher health risks
- 75% of the world’s unpaid care work is already carried out by women – and according to both King’s College London and Forbes, the pandemic has disproportionally increased the time women have to spend on domestic responsibilities – creating mental and physical challenges, and risks of burnout.
- The Washington Post reports that black women are almost twice as likely to be laid off, furloughed, or have hours and/or pay reduced because of the pandemic.
- As reported by openDemocracy, Indigenous women, especially those living in remote communities, face barriers to access to healthcare – and if they do receive care, are more likely to experience discrimination and mistreatment.
Yet, we know from research by Mercer that when women thrive, our society and economies do too. To build back better post-Covid in support of a more resilient economy and businesses, we need to put the interests of women at the heart of the recovery.
Investors can play a critical role
We can continue to push for policies and practices at our investee companies that support women’s equal participation in the workforce, including paid sick leave, childcare support, care leave, professional development programs, parental leave, and flexible work arrangements.
We can advocate for better female representation at board and senior management levels, especially when it comes to BIPOC women, and ask companies to improve diversity & inclusion strategies and demonstrate that they are working to close gender and racial pay gaps.
To keep companies accountable and understand their progress, we can ask for better data on their human capital management strategy and performance by asking them, for example, to disclose to the Workforce Disclosure Initiative.
When women thrive, our society and economies do too.
Our engagement on gender equality
At BMO GAM, we have been engaging for gender equality for many years, and have expanded our focus in recognition of the intersectionality of gender, race and other categories of identity that have been historically disadvantaged. We believe that diverse workforces and boards create more resilient businesses that support long-term performance.
What we’re doing