A recent study by Booz & Co. reveals that if the U.S. employment rate for women were to become equal to that of men over the next 10 years, we would likely see an increase of at least 5% in our GDP.
Now, think about this for a moment. We’re not even talking about equality within the workplace. Simply making it possible for women to have the same chance at employment is worth $795 billion.
Imagine what women could do for the economy, in the U.S. and in the world, if we took this a step further and talked about what it would look like for women to not only have equal employment opportunities but equal pay for the same work as well as equal opportunities for promotion and leadership, including more balanced representation in government, academia, and corporate boards. As I’ve discussed before (see “How Being Successful Can Save the Planet”), companies with women board members tend to be 42-66% more profitable than those with all-male boards.
And I’m still not talking about the effect on the economy of more women entrepreneurs, whose companies regularly outpace male-led firms in growth.
Anyone who says they care about the economy but isn’t concerned about gender equality is not paying attention. And that’s the kindest assessment I can make.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait around for the world to change or for the sexism and increasingly violent misogyny that pervades positions of power to slither back into the Bronze Age. We have the power to change our lives and our world, as women and for women, right now.
Not only do we have this power in our vote and our advocacy for representatives who will act on gender equality—not just because it makes good financial sense but because it’s the right thing to do—we have the power to be the women who will save the economy. We do this when we negotiate for what we’re worth, when we mentor other women (or seek mentors), when we unabashedly start our own businesses to make the profit that is necessary to make a difference.
When we recognize that equality is not something we are given but something we already possess, and deserve, only then can we step into our power to shape the world and our future to match that reality.
Image credit: Kevin Dooley.