Working towards equity – International Women’s Day 2023

March 08, 2023 Share this article:

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity.

Very deliberately, it’s not #EmbraceEquality.

That’s because equity and equality are two different things. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities, while equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome for everyone involved.

So: equality is giving everyone shoes; equity is giving everyone shoes that fit.

What that means for women in the workplace

Lean In’s research shows that bias contributes to women being passed over for jobs and promotions, and almost 60% of women regularly experience microaggressions at work. Additionally, for many women, finding meaningful support at work is a major challenge. About 20% of women say they’re often the only woman in the room at work.

In those circumstances, making sure that women have a fair chance of being promoted (or of getting that job they have interviewed for) is not enough. For women to succeed in the long term, they need mentoring and support, along with family-friendly benefits and working hours that accommodate the disproportionate burden of care placed on women.

For AltoPartners that means that the focus on equity needs to be given attention all year round. In our work with companies and clients, we consistently emphasise that the role of the board and the CEO is paramount in setting the agenda and the tone for the rest of the organisation. “The commitment to equity needs to be from the top, and vocal and visible,” says Sonal Agrawal, Global Chair of AltoPartners, and managing partner of Accord India / AltoPartners India.

We walk the talk

In the global AltoPartners partnership:

  • We have 18 of 39 firms headed by women;

  • Our network includes 388 women (of 577people in total) across the world;

  • 50% of the AltoPartners Global Operating committee is comprised of women;

  • Our diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) placements have seen a 45% increase from 2020 to date, with over 70% of those placements recorded in North America;

  • Each local firm presents a diverse slate of candidates during the search process;

  • We regularly conduct bespoke diversity mapping projects across defined functions and industry groups; and

  • We work on the ongoing creation of board candidate slates that include women from relevant markets.

In addition, AltoPartners globally have signed the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) Global Diversity Pledge. And we are active participants in the AESC IDEA Council, which addresses diversity and inclusion in the industry to actively drive best practice.