According to the McKinsey Global Institute, advancing the cause of gender equality could add $28 trillion (that’s $28,000,000,000) to the global annual GDP by 2025.
That’s another 9 U.S. sized economies.
And that’s not a $28 trillion hit, it’s a $28 trillion hit every year, and that doesn’t take into account growth from 2025 on. Looked at another way, that’s adding 26% to the total world economy, annually!
Think about that. Right now, as a species, we are barely passing class with a 74. We’re C students at best! Imagine what we could do as A students.
Let’s Put $28 Trillion Into Perspective
What could we, as a planet, afford to do with an extra $28 trillion every year?
- Current estimates say that we could end global poverty for about $3.5 trillion.
- Everyone on Earth could have clean water for $265 billion.
- Free college for everyone would cost $62.6 billion a year.
- US student loans could be forgiven for $1.22 trillion.
- We could end world hunger would cost $267 billion per year over the next 15 years
- And we could send humans to Mars for $19.3 billion/ year (NASA’s entire budget)
And we’re not even making a dent yet.
All it would take is for women to have an equal playing field with men in the workplace (it sounds so easy when we say it like that).
Gender Equality at Work is the Key
According to McKinsey, no country has high gender equality in society and low gender equality at work – they go together.
Let’s say that another way: society-wide gender equality does not exist without gender equality in the workplace.
Gender equality will mean higher labor force participation by women, equal pay for equal work, greater leadership by women, and greater time spent by both men and women in unpaid care work (caring for children, the elderly, and the sick) – which right now falls disproportionately on women.
Are There Drawbacks?
Wait, aren’t there drawbacks to just evening the playing field? Doesn’t someone have to lose power for someone else to gain power?
Actually, men would lose nothing – the extra $28 trillion would come from women’s added productivity.
Gender equality benefits everyone. It’s all gain and no loss. It’s the best investment we can make in our collective future… but it’s not all macro-morality or macro-economics. Gender equality is proven to benefit companies on a single, in-market basis.
“A given firm generates on average one percent (or over $40 million) more economic value with at least one woman on its top management team than without any women on its top management team and also enjoys superior accounting performance,” according to researchers Dezso and Ross.
You may be asking yourself the same question I was when I read that research, “then how do we get entrenched male leaders to jump into the fray?”
In a recent post about Gender Intelligent Men by Cari Guittard, Professor of Global Management, Corporate Diplomacy & Women’s Leadership, Hult International Business School, said:
“Gender Intelligence, or the lack thereof, along with the predominant hyper masculine leadership styles that permeate every aspect of modern society, may be one of the greatest leadership challenges facing humanity today. If half the population is unable to understand, fully appreciate, and embrace the other half we will all collectively lose out.”
Part of the problem appears to be “discomfort” with diversity. Guys, it turns out we may actually need to get uncomfortable.
Research suggests that the affective discomfort associated with diversity is intimately related to the superior decision-making to which diversity can give rise. In fact, the conflict from alternative perspectives leads to better decision-making in diverse groups.
What else do we need to do?
Societally, gender equality will mean we need to come to grips with the realities of family planning. Family planning must be accepted as a social issue, not a moral or religious issue.
Women must be free to choose their own path in terms of reproduction and not be forced to bear children for lack of simple contraception. Both men and women must be free to plan their families according to what works for them, free of outside interference. Maternal mortality must be eliminated, along with child marriage, violence against women, and political and social suppression of women.
The business case is clear – $28 trillion worth of clear.
The personal case is easy if you are a woman, or if you are a man who knows a girl or woman… so… everyone who’s not sociopathic.
The moral case is equally clear, particularly in light of what is shown in the infographic – we could end world hunger once and for all; eliminate poverty; stamp out the scourges of child marriage and rape and violence against women. Clean water could be available to everyone in the world and with it virtual elimination of death from diarrhea, cholera, typhus, and other water-related illnesses. Education for all would be possible with a concomitant rise in the standard of living worldwide.
And with all that, dare we dream – what would there be to go to war over?
Co-written with Dr. Ed Gurowitz, my partner at the Gender Leadership Group.