According to this S&P Global article written by Beth Ann Bovino and Jason Gold, if the U.S. could increase female entry and retention in the workplace, especially in roles traditionally held by men, we have the potential to add 5%-10% growth to our economy in just a few decades.
Additionally, the authors state that if women entered, and stayed, in the workforce at a pace in line with Norway, the U.S. economy would be $1.6 trillion larger than it is today. Angel Gurria, Secretary-General at Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), writes that women are "the most underutilized economic asset in the world.” The Upside agrees.
The authors state that the female "labor-force participation rate—now near a 40-year low—has increasingly become a drag on growth since the turn of the millennium." We believe that the reason is not lack of talent, reflected in our robust network of exceptional consultants and independent contractors, rather it’s the lack of opportunities that offer flexibility for the inequitable share of family care that women in 2018 still take on.
The article points to a 2013 survey by Pew that found that 39% of mothers had, at some point in their careers, taken off a significant amount of time to care for a child or other family member. More than 25% had quit work entirely to do so. Just 24% of fathers, on the other hand, had taken a significant amount of time off to assume these responsibilities—and it should surprise no one that these types of career interruptions can weigh on long-term workplace options.
Norway and Canada are given as examples of advanced economies where women are more likely than American women to be employed part-time and allowed the opportunity to arrange more flexible schedules. There must be change in our culture in order to grow the economy, and current trends "certainly suggest that society recognizes this time in history as ripe for a serious overhaul in relation to gender accessibility to the workforce."
This begins by overhauling the way working works, "looking beyond simply supporting women with family obligations" and increasing workplace diversity, especially when companies risk leaving imperative female"ideas, innovation, productivity, and perspective on the sidelines." The authors concluded, "If we we want to spur the pace of growth in the world’s biggest economy to its potential, underutilization of our greatest economic resource, women, is no longer a viable option."
The solution? S&P looks to increased education and change in public policy. While we concur that these are certainly fundamental issues, The Upside provides an answer for CEOs and companies today, without having to overhaul their entire full-time workforce culture. Efforts to retain, attract and provide flexibility for women will not only result in more productivity and profits, but according to S&P, it could easily negate the negative impact from retiring baby boomers.
Growth is the number one reason CEOs should increase the number of women on their teams. Our very purpose at The Upside is to match high achieving professionals—experts in their fields—with companies that want to compete in the new flexible workplace culture and grow in the millennial economy.
Read the entire article here.