• mind the gap

    Jane WurwandThat’s what we say in the UK when stepping on and off the tube (train). But the gap that I really “mind” these days, in the American sense, meaning that it vexes me, is the gap dividing men and women globally in terms of gender equality.

    The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report has just been published. The news in some cases is good; some countries, like the USA and Sri Lanka, have risen in the rankings. Others, like France — quelle horreur! — have dropped.

    The report studies and analyzes 114 countries on the basis of key issues:

    • Economics (salaries, access to skilled employment)
    • Educational attainment
    • Political representation in decision-making structures
    • Health and survival

    At the top of the list: Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden. Great places to be a woman, providing you have a good pair of boots and a nice bulky sweater or two. Some are quick to point out that these Nordic economies are “rich” by world standards. True, but this study demonstrates that wealth is more accurately defined as equally divided assets and opportunities, not mere endowments alone.

    This all gets back to why I attended the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), and why Dermalogica has founded FITE. There is an unmistakable correlation between gender equality and a country’s prosperity and economic viability. Countries that don’t place value upon female human capital (I won’t name names, but, oh, you know who you are) are wasting an immeasurable resource: women’s talents and skills. Some of these countries possess tremendous wealth, but it stays in the hands of a very few men. These untapped talents and skills can generate a significant competitive advantage in the world market. So, in practical terms, it’s not just bad karma: it’s bad business.

    These ideas were on my mind when I was recently interviewed on television (please look for it!), during the closing session of the CGI. As the attendees and I began to go our separate ways, lots of people asked me for a sound-byte to capture what I hope to achieve with FITE.

    What I said: I want Dermalogica to be instantly associated in the minds of consumers with putting 25,000 of the world’s women into business for themselves, much the way M.A.C. is known for championing HIV/AIDS prevention and survival.

    But here’s my new question: do we as women place limits upon ourselves, and what we are willing to achieve?

    Let’s talk.

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