Interview with Amelia Lopez Huix: ‘Gender equality is imperative to any company that wants to remain competitive in the economy of the 21st century’

Yesterday, 17 January 2022, was the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. This annual meeting, will be hosted virtually due to COVID-19. During the WEF hosts a series of virtual plenary sessions. One of them is the Virtual Equality Lounge. Today, 18 January 2022, at 4:30 pm GMT is the session ‘How to Advance Women’s Leadership in Male-Dominated Industries’. Amelia Lopez Huix, Target Gender Equality Implementation Partner at Global Compact Network Netherlands, is the moderator.

 

Virtual session ‘How to Advance Women’s Leadership in Male-Dominated Industries.’

The Female Quotient’s Equality Lounge @ Davos is a flagship event. Over the course of three days, the event will gather business luminaries and world leaders to explore global imperatives including gender equality, pay equity, the future of work, and climate change. In the sessions, speakers will assess the current state of global equality and align on solutions that will close the gaps and steer industries towards a more equitable future.(See the full programme here)

The session ‘How to Advance Women’s Leadership in Male-Dominated Industries’ is organized by the UN Global Compact and convenes leaders engaged through Global Compact Local Networks in different regions implementing the Target Gender Equality initiative. During this session, female leaders from various industries will address how they personally tackled stereotypes and share their solutions to questions like: How can you set realistic but ambitious targets for women’s leadership when female workforce participation is extremely low? How do you ensure flexibility when working from home is not an option? How can you anticipate backlash and engage male leadership and colleagues in meaningful ways?

 

Start of Lopez Huix’s work on gender equality

‘As a daughter of a working mother and having been raised aware that my opportunities as a female could possibly be challenged by societal expectations, I grew up as a girl driven by a strong, resilient, and holistic approach to embark on different opportunities that would offer me possibilities to develop myself in an empowering context. With that mindset, I became a Spanish Champion and Swimmer for the Olympic Games of Barcelona 1992. Later on, my professional career was developed at Honeywell INC, where I was the European IT Managing Director.

My work on gender equality started when I became a mother. After experiencing life and a career full of opportunities, I happened to experience the systemic phenomenon called the “motherhood penalty”. The motherhood penalty is the sharp decline in earnings that women suffer after giving birth. This is one of the principal causes of the gender pay gap. It often locks women into lower incomes for the rest of their careers.

It was in that moment that I decided to become not only a strong advocate for women’s rights, but also to embark on a professional journey to start a new career at the United Nations as an expert and advisor on gender equality. In 2010, I joined my first United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to actively participate in the global dialogues for economic and social policy interventions at the country level. Since then, I have been full committed to support the advancement of the Gender Equality agenda by working as an expert and advisor on gender economic equity to different Ministries of Economy and UN Agencies, especially at the ILO, UN Women and the UN Global Compact.

Since 2015, with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, my work on SDG5 for Gender Equality is focused on supporting companies in the signature and implementation of the WEPs (Women Empowerment Principles). Currently, I am supporting the Global Compact Network Netherlands in the facilitation of the Target Gender Equality Programme.’

Men can be an ally for gender equality

By understanding the fact that gender equality means business. In that sense, more and more companies, especially CEOs and management level positions understand that gender equality is not only a moral imperative, is directly linked to business performance.

More than ever, taking bold action to increase female representation and leadership in business is needed. Public support for gender equality from the business community is stronger than it has ever been: over 8000 business leaders have signed the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and when asked, 85% of CEOs agree that “Women’s participation and leadership in business is a critical driver of company performance”.

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of the ender diverse companies are more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry means;

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of the boardrooms are gender-balanced, enterprises are more likely to have improved business outcomes.

Support the change from within

Lopez Huix is inspired by new legislations and efforts in this regard, especially in the narrative that gender equality is key for corporate sustainability. More and more companies are embedding gender equality no more as a stand-alone item in the agenda next to Human Resources for the sole purpose of attracting new talent, but for the mainstream of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies that try to maximize the impact of programs and initiatives at all business levels, to bring innovation, well-being, team building and very positive business outcomes for companies to consider the needs of their employees and customers fully.

In that sense, companies are creating new figures, like the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers. Lopez Huix’s message to executives and managers that want to work on gender equality within their organization would be to embark together in that mission, to support the change from within, with the comprehension that diversity, equity, and inclusion is here to stay, not to create opposed differences between diverse talent, but to lead together creating fair and equal opportunities for all.

Having a strategic and intentional approach to gender equality, diversity, equity and inclusion is imperative to any company that wants to remain competitive in the economy of the 21st century.

Links for more information about:

Women’s Empowerment Principles (WePs)

Target Gender Equality

UN Global Compact

Virtual Equality Lounge @ Davos