Even in these modern times when technological advancements have created a world that was difficult to imagine even a few years ago, the world at large is still struggling to achieve something as simple as gender balance at the workplace. If we are to believe the World Economic Forum’s 2015 estimate, the gender gap will not close entirely until 2133. In this regard, it is pertinent to point towards a recent IMF Working Paper, which has refreshingly concluded that there is a positive correlation between participation of women in the corporate world and increased revenue generation. Companies around the world, and especially in Europe, have started to realise that more female participation not only adds creative diversity to their teams, it also boosts the companies’ profits as women bring “a different experience” when appointed to decision-making roles.
There has been a huge change for the better when it comes to women’s participation in the labour force, but the road ahead is still a potholed one. In Pakistan, the struggle to reach some sort of gender parity at the workplace is far from over, with only three per cent of women in managerial positions according to the 2015 ILO global report. It is high time that there was a realisation that for an economically stable and strong Pakistan, we need more women in the workforce. Expecting a sudden transformation in favour of women’s participation in the labour force is perhaps naive, but there are signs that there are changes afoot that will help realise this goal. Though sluggishly, Pakistanis are realising the importance of female education and presence at the workplace. The country’s universities are producing more female graduates than ever before, including in the fields of pure sciences and technology. However, this healthy intake of women at universities is still to translate into a gender balance at the workplace. Perhaps, Pakistani companies need to take a cue from the findings of the IMF Working Paper and realise that encouraging more women to enter the field will be in the interests of both profitability and for unlocking the economic growth potential of the country.