Why was the World Economic Forum in Davos so pivotal for women this year?

Several announcements to support women in the workplace were made at Davos 2016 in Switzerland recently. So what were they and how to they affect women in the workplace?

Davos 2016: When Women Thrive 2020 challenge

Notable male CEOs gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month to pledge their commitment for gender diversity in the workplace. The CEOs vowed to increase efforts in introducing new programmes to advance and empower working women.

Davos Switzerland

The CEOs were from the likes of Barclays, eBay, Cisco, Marriott, Mercer, and UBS who agreed that the empowerment of women is one of the greatest opportunities to for global economic and corporate growth.

The leaders declared their commitment during their launch of the When Women Thrive 2020 Challenge.

Global consulting firm Mercer is leading the charge with the challenge, which aims to approach corporate and ask them to share their own innovations on how they are advancing women’s roles.

During the conference Jurg Zeltner, the CEO of UBS Wealth Management noted that half of the wealth managed by UBS is held by female clients. On average those client relationships have been held for 47 years.

However, he highlighted the fact that the company loses female staff when they are fully trained and at their best. She was reported as saying: “There is no room for excuses in this regard.”

“I don’t think we should sit in boardrooms without women.”

eBay’s Devin Wenig, said: “We could employ all guys in Silicon Valley, but that’s not going to help us understand our customer.” eBay has over 170 million active customers, half of which are women.

“Three years ago we made a commitment to publish our data,” he added. “And the only thing worse than avoiding the issue is talking about it and not doing anything about it. So when we created transparency, people really started being held accountable.”

Davos 2016: When Women Thrive report

Davos 2016 also saw the preview of the now released When Women Thrive report, which includes 10-year forecasts, ranking and insights into key factors on how companies currently stand on issues such as leadership, pay equality, flexible leave, financial wellness and health programmes.

During the report’s preview at Davos 2016 Mercer’s Pat Milligan drew attention to some of the statistics in the paper. She highlighted the fact that the engagement of men in diversity and inclusion efforts has decreased from 49% to 38% since 2014.

She said: “We all want to change this. And the good news is, we can. Join these leaders in taking Mercer’s When Women Thrive 2020 survey (here) and sharing how you are helping women thrive in your organisation.”

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