Denmark is historically a global front-runner of gender equality. However, the reality looks quite different – we are not as equal as we think. This is largely due to our inability to get women into leadership – A huge diversity issue, which negatively affects society, companies, and organizations. To tackle the issue and work towards a solution, BCG and UN Women created a Gender Diversity Roundtable, a cross-sector initiative that represents leaders from all levels of Danish society.
Why is it that girls already at the age of six believe that boys are better at math? And why do we always call mom when a child is sick?
The myth about Denmark being a gender equality frontrunner has persisted. This is despite Denmark continuously fall in gender equality rankings. Meanwhile, the gap continues to grow – currently, Denmark has fallen 42 places down to a 95. spot on World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap Report” from 2018. In comparison, the other Nordic countries are doing far better, topping the charts, according to the World Economic Forum.
Partnership to improve gender diversity
In 2016, BCG and UN Women established the Gender Diversity Roundtable (GDR) in order to investigate this inequality, understand the underlying reasons, and to identify solutions.
The roundtable created consists of 18 members. All members are recognized leaders from academia, the private sector, and civil society, that come together to tackle the problem across sectors. The Gender Diversity Roundtable include, among others, Malou Aamund, Danish Country Director at Google, Thomas Thune Andersen, Chairman at Ørsted, and Anders Bjerklev, president at DTU – the Technical University of Denmark.
The Gender Diversity Roundtable has also been joined by and received support from HRH Crown Princess Mary and the Minister for Gender Equality in Denmark.
Increasing the number of female leaders is crucial
After three years of work in the Gender Diversity Roundtable, with four completed reports to follow, we concluded that increased gender diversity would assist the progress of Danish society.
In 2019, only a third of leaders are women, and only 12 percent of CEO’s in companies with more than 50 employees in Denmark are women. If that wasn’t critical by itself, merely 3% of men believe there is a problem related to gender bias – a crucial lack of acknowledgment that currently hampers efforts to strengthen equality, according to the most recent report on Gender Diversity
This fact highlights a significant issue, as diversity and inclusion have been documented to further societal progress, and both aspects are widely acknowledged to impart positive results in companies and organizations. Furthermore, many studies show that companies with diverse leadership teams outperform those with less diversity in leadership in terms of profit margins, return on equity, and revenues generated from innovations.
Recommendations to all levels of Danish society
Therefore the GDR set out to work towards a solution that mainly lies in breaking gender bias and stereotypes across all sectors.
This culminated in a manifesto including three cascading recommendations that calls on policy makers and leaders on all levels of Danish society – to encourage further action and ensure gender equality and diversity in leadership teams.
- Promote a gender balanced educational system from early childhood learning throughout the tertiary levels that addresses gender stereotyping, enables unbiased education, encourages diversity, and helps students match their educational choices with their ambition and talent.
- Promote gender equality and address gender stereotyping in organizations and in the society at large.
- Enable working families to drive a more balanced share of home, caregiver and work activities, allowing parents to pursue dual careers
If you want to know more about the Gender Diversity Roundtable, the members, and the recommendations go to www.genderdiversity.dk
About the author
Jacob Hansen is a Consultant at BCG in Denmark. He joined BCG in 2016. He is a cand.oecon in Economics & Management from Aarhus University.