How the gig economy will help improve diversity


When women enter the workforce, the economies grow. However, globally women do the lion’s share of unpaid work. According to McKinsey’s Women Matter report women represent 50% of the world’s working age population, but generate only 37% of GDP. $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by closing the gender gap.[1] Several reports have concluded larger flexibility, ability to work from home and access to platform economy will increase women’s labor force participation. The future of work will be more project oriented, and future leaders will co-create in more horizontal organizational structures emphasizing collaboration, agility and skill sharing. Utilizing their assets and strengths women have an opportunity to increase their labor force participation by leveraging the flexibility offered in the Interim Executive profession, and as a result also reduce the skills gap, improve GDP and family income. ,


The skills shortage and the pay gap must be solved together

Accenture concludes in its Getting to Equal 2017 research that if women make strategic choices and gain more digital skills, embrace lifelong learning, and develop a career strategy, and if businesses, governments and academia provide crucial support to increase the share of women in STEM, increase job flexibility, ensure mentorship, and provide internet access we can close the pay gap 36 years earlier in developed markets and 102 years earlier in developing markets. In an environment of intense skills shortages, the pay gap holds back not just women, but businesses and economic growth. The skills shortage and the pay gap must be solved together. Not only is digital technology changing the nature of work and reshaping organizations, but a demographic revolution is playing its part. For the first time, five generations are participating in the workforce, shifting working cultures as people demand greater flexibility, more project-based employment, freelance experiences and increased autonomy. Enabled by new digital technologies, the future workforce will create an environment more conducive to the needs of women and better placed to level the playing field with men.[2]


”Women have a unique opportunity to reduce the skills gap and level the playing field at the same time”

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Digitalization, robotics and automation were the themes at the conference arranged by Arbetsmarknadsdepartementet (Ministry of Employment) and Nordiska Ministerrådet (Nordic Council of Ministers) in Stockholm in May 2018, and the conference focused on how the technological development will impact the workforce of the future, what skills will be in demand, the skills shift and the need for lifelong learning. Mark Keese, OECD, concluded the automation of jobs may not favor women to the degree previously believed. Instead automation is industry dependent and the overall impact are similar for men and women alike. Mark concluded the importance of increased female participation in STEM, the importance of lifelong learning and access and use of technology and emphasized that flexible ways of working must not be at the cost of lower job quality. It is crucial to ensure gender equality in support for displaced workers and adapt social protection systems to the new forms of work.[3]

 

Women are one of the largest pools of untapped labor in the Future of Work

According to McKinsey’s Women Matter report women represent 50% of the world’s working age population but generate only 37% of GDP. $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by closing the gender gap. Women are actually one of the largest pools of untapped labor: globally, 655 million fewer women are economically active than men. And while they make up over 50 percent of the world's higher-education graduates, only 25 percent of them occupy management positions. Beyond that, at the microeconomic level, companies face the challenge of managing talent. Trends in demographics, employment and education suggests that the global economy can anticipate a worrying talent shortage by 2020. The talent gap will amount to 38 to 40 million higher-education graduates, representing 13 percent of the global demand for skills at that level. Tapping the reservoir of underutilized skills among women will become a key priority in the talent war. In addition, as shown in the OECD's 2017 "Education at a Glance" report, parity remains a battlefield in the scientific and technical sectors, with fewer women joining STEM disciplines tertiary-level studies.[4]

 

Women have a unique opportunity to reduce the skills gap and level the playing field at the same time.

The changed workforce dynamics in parallel with the skill shift pace as a result of automation, digitalization and technology development, means we need to utilize skills and resources much more efficiently, and a different leadership will be required. Future leaders will work in horizontal organizations where co-creation is the norm. Work will be agile and project oriented emphasizing collaboration and skill sharing, and the role of the future leader will be more focused at motivating and coaching. The Valtus Barometer, a Globalise company[5], concluded a majority of respondents agree a clear strategic vision is key for results. The Barometer also highlights the essential qualities of the manager in charge of a transformation project being; leadership, listening skills and the ability to create allies, which are all linked to the idea of engaging stakeholders in the project.[6] Paolo Gallo, Senior Advisor to the Chairman, World Economic Forum Geneva, said in May 2018; “Women make up 52% of the population, but they’re still underpaid and employed in roles that are below their level of skill and expertise. But I’m convinced that the future belongs to women. Why? Because they tend to possess the human characteristics that will give them the advantage in the new jobs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Like the capacity for collaboration (instead of competition), empathy, creativity, listening and learning.”[7] Women now have a unique opportunity to help close the skills shortage by utilizing their strengths, EQ and soft skills in combination with leveraging the flexibility offered by the freelance and Interim Executive profession. According to McKinsey Global Institute independent workers, and Executive interim professionals report higher levels of job satisfaction and rank autonomy and flexibility highest.[8] The highest ranking benefit – flexibility - is a key factor for increasing women’s labor force participation, hence an Executive Interim Professional career and on-demand economy will positively contribute to women staying in the workforce and working full time throughout the career lifetime, as the flexibility is built in and controlled by the Executive Interim Professional.

For businesses, the gig economy presents huge opportunity to bring in talent that otherwise would be inaccessible to the organization. Maximizing the benefits of diverse talent available in the gig economy will improve creativity and profitability. New, fresh and different perspectives brought in by Interim Executives and freelancers will in turn help shift culture. It’s important to ensure diversity and inclusion strategy and related processes extend to the external workforce and incorporating specific gender issues for freelancers into companies’ gender strategy will ensure attracting the best freelancer talent and ability to maximize their contribution by creating a high performance environment for them.

 

Charlotta Kvarnström
Partner, Nordic Interim Executive Solutions


[1] McKinsey, Women Matter, Time to accelerate, Ten years of insights into gender diversity.

[2] Accenture, Getting to equal 2017, Closing the pay gap.

[3] Arbetsmarknadsdepartementet & Nordiska Ministerrådet, Conference May 15-16, 2018; How the technological development will impact the workforce of the future, and what skills will be in demand

[4] McKinsey, Women Matter, Time to accelerate, Ten years of insights into gender diversity.

[5] https://www.nordicinterim.se/globalise

[6] Valtus, The results of the 1st edition o fits corporate transformation barometer.

[7] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/the-4-emerging-truths-of-the-4IR-job-market/

[8] McKinsey Global Institute, Independent work: Choice, Necessity and the Gig Economy, October 2016

NewsBjörn Henriksson