In line with this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Balance for Better,” global human resources consulting firm, Mercer is committed to creating a balanced approach that caters to the health, wealth and careers of both male and female employees.

Gender balance is essential for communities and economies to thrive. As a matter of fact, companies that hire women across all levels enjoy a more collaborative culture and improved productivity. Teach a woman, feed a village is a testament to the influence women have to drive change and create opportunities for the benefit of a wider community.

This is why progress for women in 2019 and beyond is hinged on gender-specific policies and programmes, some of which include equity pay and benefits, alongside national and international domestic violence laws.

However, besides creating a more conducive environment supported by these policies, Lerato Tsolo, HR Partner at Mercer points out that “we still have a long way to go.”

In the 2018 annual Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden round out the top five that promote female advancement, while the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chad, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen make up the bottom.

Iceland is the first country in the world to make pay inequality illegal. According to a CNN report, companies who fail to prove pay equality will be fined close to $500 a day provided the gap continues to exist. Not only is this an important stride in terms of a global outlook, but it also shows that Iceland is clearly advancing as an economy.

But even though the Global Gender Gap Report also indicates that it could take over 20 decades for women to earn as much as men, and have equal representation in the workplace, they remain vital contributors towards building thriving businesses and societies. As such, companies will offer a more unique value proposition in securing their tomorrow. One way of achieving this is to include health benefits and financial wellbeing solutions as a holistic employee proposition while considering that diverse segments of the workforce will require tailored solutions.

Across the world, particularly in Africa, not enough is being done to ensure that these needs are met. As highlighted in Mercer’s People First Emerging Megacities report, Approaching cities like Nairobi and Lagos rank low across these four dimensions- human, health, money and work.

To address this imbalance means designing benefits, education, and retirement plans in companies that adapt to specific needs. This simply means that organisations need to offer innovative programs customised for different gender behaviours.

“Diversity is our nature, inclusion is our choice. Value is created when an environment is shaped to embrace unique views across gender, ethnicity and age future of work is mainly about sparking connections, building an environment that promotes a coherent sense of identity,” said Nicol Mullins, Principal Leader -Career Business at Mercer South Africa. He also emphasises the need to embrace one another and realise that together is better.

Mercer’s 2018 Gender Inflection report has found that women are better represented in organisations that view women’s health as critical to developing and retaining women and that offer targeted programs, including gender-specific health education campaigns and parental leave. Efforts to improve financial wellness can also help mitigate the risk that productivity is being lost to time spent worrying about finances while at work.

The current landscape and dynamics of gender diversity provide a unique opportunity and platform for organisations to make strides.

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