U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Karen Kornbluh
on the Launch of the BIAC/AmCham France Report
Putting ALL Our Minds to Work: Harnessing the Gender Dividend
at the OECD Conference Center
May 22, 2012
Good Afternoon. I would like to thank BIAC for convening us especially Chairman Charles Heeter for your personal commitment and AmCham's Marina Niforos. Thanks to Ronnie Goldberg and Nicole Primmer.
Michelle Bachelet, thank you for your leadership in promoting gender equality. OECD is no longer the “rich man’s club,” but now the “reformer’s club.” That is thanks to Angel Gurria’s leadership, and this is an example of his leadership.
I thank the speakers and participants from the private sector, especially those that contributed case studies and talent management best practices; Monica Queisser and Willem Adema who produced the OECD report; and from the United States Will Wade and Alex MacFarlane.
The United States has put women's participation at the heart of foreign policy. In part this is because, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said, “When we liberate the economic potential of women, we elevate the economic performance of communities, nations and the world.”
This is why when I came to the OECD, even though it was called “the rich man’s club,” I proposed launching a new Gender Initiative. We knew that the OECD had done world-class work on women and employment. We were thrilled that the members embraced this initiative, the result of which is this mainstream economic institution documenting the importance of women to the economy.
This report addresses the “Gender Participation Paradox.” We know that more girls than ever are getting an education and even entering the workforce, so many people assume; “Problem Solved.” Yet, we still see too little change in top management or in ownership of assets. Across the OECD, women are still poorer than men at every age – increasingly so in old age.
The OECD report explains this paradox. It documents what amounts to a leaky pipeline.
- In Education; only 20% of science, technology, engineering or math graduates are women.
- In Employment; across the OECD, women are more likely to be temporary employees and are paid on average 16% less.
- In Entrepreneurship; this pay and time gap contributes to a savings gap, which makes it difficult to capitalize their own businesses in the first place. When women do start businesses, they disproportionally do so in the service sector rather than in engineering or manufacturing.
No wonder that we don't see enough women in top jobs. Only about three percent of the CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies are women.
Of course in developing countries, it is much worse. This is why the U.S. urged the OECD and UN Women to collaborate in creating new indicators on women’s economic opportunity across developed and developing countries.
With all this data, the OECD has importantly laid out policy tools that countries can use to solve the paradox. There are leaks in different places in the pipeline in different countries, so the tools needed may be different. There is not one solution.
Government policy is not enough. If the solutions don’t work for families and employers they won't work. Period. We didn't want another report that would sit on the shelf. So, we reached out and BIAC and the American Chamber of Commerce really stepped up to the plate.
They convened the best roundtable on this subject I have ever attended. Employers talked honestly about the challenges they face and the steps they're taking. Now, they have produced a report that is a critical contribution to the debate. This is not a report telling employers what to do, but employers saying what they’ve learned the need to do.
- UBS advocates for developing empirical evidence in order to fight misperceptions and biases against women, and highlights the profitability of diversity.
- Televisa is working to strengthen a workplace culture of gender equality and is implementing pro-gender practices to attract and retain female talent.
- Sodexo created a council of women executives dedicated to advancing women’s representation at all levels of the organization.
- Deloitte employs talent management programs to support women’s economic empowerment and is benefitting from innovation and increased employee engagement.
The report we are launching today provides additional tools for businesses, including key talent management best practices to promote gender equality in the workplace, in management and on boards.
The partnership won’t end here. The OECD is planning a conference in the United States in September, and we will continue to work on these challenges together.
About the U.S. Mission to the OECD
The United States is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international organization composed of 34 democratic countries with market-based economies. Through its cross-country economic research, “soft law,” and peer reviews, the OECD provides the United States an opportunity for engaging with other countries on economic policy. Get updates at http://usoecd.usmission.gov/mission/index.html. Twitter: @USAmbOECD
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