The importance of parity pledges

It’s been five months since International Women’s Day (IWD), but clearly it should not be forgotten, or left behind. At Allia, we are committed to conducting ourselves in a gender inclusive way in everything we do, and we all recognise the importance of this. In fact, some of our team have made pledges or spoken out for greater equality at events – read on to find out more.

This year’s IWD theme, #PressForProgress, encourages people to think about the ways in which they can press for progress in all facets of their lives throughout the year. The movement is a call to action to throw away complacency and come together in our communities, whether at work, at home, in our friendship circles or online, to be more gender inclusive in everything we do. With this theme comes a strong emphasis on gender parity – or the lack of – which is still glaringly obvious in society today.

The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report states that gender parity is still 200 years away. The disparity between men and women is often at its most evident in the workplace – a recent report detailed a drop in women who hold top boardroom positions – and on the panels of some of the world’s most important stages, as documented on Tumblr account ‘Congrats, you have an all male panel’, which calls out those who continue to complacently compile male-only panels.

The hashtag #panelpledge has become an important part of the gender parity movement, first gaining traction in Australia following a piece in The Atlantic in 2013 highlighting the lack of women on tech conference panels. The topic was also the theme of IWD 2016.

Since then, many organisations have made their own public parity pledges, with plenty of options for individuals wishing to make similar, more public pledges (Owen, The Atlantic, and IWD are just some of the places where people can sign public forms to commit to gender parity). A public declaration, however, is only as good as the subsequent actions of the individual – a private pledge is just as impactful as a public one so long as you make good on your word.

Martin Clark, Deputy CEO at Allia, attended a conference earlier this year at which he was due to speak – however when he arrived he realised that the panel was made up entirely of men. He and his colleague Dr Lorraine Morley, who leads on Allia’s silver economy and AgeTech Accelerator work, pointed out how unbalanced the panel was and suggested that Lorraine take Martin’s place. In this instance, Martin and Lorraine were able to enact change in the moment and push for a more representative panel.

Last year, Allia’s Director of Impact Finance Phil Caroe (pictured) attended The Gathering – an event for those working in the social investment sector to network and explore ways of working together. Diversity was a key theme – with one particular session encouraging attendees to make a panel pledge of their own. Following traction from this event, the Diversity Forum was born with the aim of addressing inequalities and driving inclusivity in the UK social investment sector.

Phil said: “Having diversity enriches the conversation and brings out different viewpoints and opinions, which makes a panel more interesting and useful for the listeners.”

Providing an inclusive environment for staff to work in and looking to tackle inequalities at every level is an integral part of Allia’s ethos, and one that we are proud to commit ourselves to.

We align our work closely with the UN Sustainability Development Goals, including the goals of Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities: