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Lecture 24

BCHM 658 Lecture Notes - Lecture 24: United Nations Development Programme, Chief Executive Officer, Gender Mainstreaming


Department
BCHM - Biochemistry
Course Code
BCHM 658
Professor
John
Lecture
24

Page:
of 16
Dubai International Academy Model United Nations 2014| 6th Annual Session
Forum: General Assembly 3 - Social, Cultural and Humanitarian
Issue: Measures to Increase Women’s Representation at All
Management Levels
Student Officer: Siddarth Raj
Position: Chair
Introduction
“It is a basic human right for women to enjoy full legal equality and equality of opportunity,
and for a girl born today, in any country, to have the same life prospects as any boy. All our
societies are poorer if they fail to tap the full potential of half their population and do not remove
their obstacles, which so often prevent women from rising to leadership positions in political
systems and elsewhere.” - Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999 - 2008) and
the first woman to head the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
Even though women in most parts of the world perform as well as, or even better than their
male counterparts both at school and at the university level, it is unfortunate that they do not reach
top management level positions. It is a fact that more women graduate from college than men, but
their professional success does not seem to match their academic success.
According to Sylvia Hewlett, founder of the Center for Work-Life Policy, women represent
53% of new employees in companies across the United States of America every year. However, at
the initial opportunity for promotion to a managerial position, this number drops to 37%.
Furthermore, only 26% of Vice Presidents and Senior Executives are women. Subsequently, only
14% of the company’s board, on average, are women. Interestingly, 62% of women are in jobs that
would rarely lead to a C-level role in contrast to 65% of men who hold jobs that will line them up for
C-level jobs. Additionally, women currently hold 20% of the parliament seats across the world,
which accounts to roughly 40 women, and only 4% of the Fortune 500 companies are headed by
women while 17% of the board seats in American companies are held by women.
Over the last ten years, these are statistics that have not differed. There is a school of
thought that believes that women are not as ambitious to reach C-level positions, but is that really
true? Or rather, is there gender discrimination even in the 21st Century where the fourth
Millennium Development Goal, signed by all countries, is to ‘promote gender equality and
empower women’? It is high time that the United Nations (UN) intervened to increase women’s
representation at all management levels.
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Dubai International Academy Model United Nations 2014| 6th Annual Session
Gender diversity is a top agenda in most corporate businesses, but in reality, there is a
huge gap between genders and their management level positions. As the economic crisis hit the
world in 2008, most countries realised that the time had come to take adequate measures to
increase women’s representation within the global economy, particularly at the management level.
It has been proven by Catalyst, a US-based non-profit organisation, through a comparative study
of large industrial companies that there exists a positive correlation between a company’s financial
performance and number of women at the top. Catalyst found a 26% difference in return on
invested capital between companies with more women on the board than companies with no
female directors.
Women have been proven to have as impressive leadership skills as men, and as long as
these skills are wasted, companies are leaving behind untapped potential. Equal participation from
both genders will contribute tremendously towards economic recovery and sustainable growth,
which in turn leads to security and stability.
Definition of Key Terms
Gender Equality
Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is a top priority for the United Nations. It
is meant to promote and encourage respect for human rights as well as fundamental freedoms for
all human beings without discrimination against one’s gender. As the fourth Millennium
Development Goal, gender equality plays a vital role in the development of humanity.
Gender Diversity
It is the tendency to have an equal, or roughly the same, number of employees of both
genders. A heterogeneous work place, in terms of gender, is the best workplace when it comes to
effectiveness. Studies show that employees work more effectively when groups in the workplace
comprise of both genders. The reason for this is that problems are easily solved because both
genders look at the same issue with unique perspectives. Gender diversity is the first step towards
equality.
Gender Mainstreaming
Established as a global strategy for promoting gender equality in the platform for action at
the United Nations World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, the concept of bringing
gender issues to the mainstream of society is known as gender mainstreaming. The UN’s very own
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) define gender mainstreaming as the strategy where
policies are designed and implemented to enable both men and women to be equal benefactors.
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Dubai International Academy Model United Nations 2014| 6th Annual Session
All in all, it emphasises the need to ensure that gender equality is achieved for the benefit of social
and economic development.
Management Levels
Most organisations have three management levels, the ‘top’, ‘middle’ and ‘lower level’.
Those that work at the ‘top’ level are known as Corporate level (C-level) executives, namely the
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operations Officer (COO) and
several more. This group of employees determine the policies, objectives, plans of the organisation
and are ultimately the brain of the organisation. Meanwhile, the ‘middle level management co-
ordinate the activities of different departments within an organisation and report to the C-level. The
‘lower level’ report to the ‘middle’ level management and are the direct link to the lowest category
of employees, which tend to be workers.
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
A UN organisation specifically dedicated to provide gender equality and empowerment of
women, the presence of UN Women is felt all over the world. The primary aim of this organization
is to co-ordinate efforts to promote women’s rights and opportunities worldwide. A truly unique
organisation, UN Women reaches out to women at the grass-root level, which includes low-skilled
women, domestic workers, and rural women. UN Women work in co-operation with UNIFEM,
established in 1996, with an objective to achieve gender equality by strengthening women
financially.
Succession Planning
Succession planning is the process of identifying employees with high potential within an
organisation with the sole purpose of developing to take on key leadership positions within the
organisation in the future. A basic method to retain employees with high performance output,
succession planning can be beneficial to women in particular as it increases the opportunity for
promotion.
Glass Ceilings
A situation within an organisation where an unacknowledged discriminatory barrier exists
against women that prevents them from reaching further positions of authority, especially in the
case of promotion. The primary reason why glass ceilings exist in the workplace is because of
gender stereotyping against women.
Structural Obstacles
In order to achieve success in any organisation, women need to be fully aware of the
structural dimensions of power. To climb the corporate ladder, women must utilise the structural
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