Gender parity in the workplace may not be a new idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a radical one, write Sofia Bodger and Clémence Lépinard, Strategists at BBH London.

At the end of last year, the BBH Strategy department was put to the test and asked to enter the IPPR Economics Prize (much more detail on that and our other entries to come on Labs soon). The challenge was to draw up a radical plan to force a step change in the UK’s economy and reverse the downward trend of economic growth.

Our proposal was simple: increase female participation in the workplace and achieve gender parity. We covered childcare, parental leave, unpaid work redistribution, access to higher productivity and higher paying roles, careers in STEM, education, training, mentoring, equal pay… The list goes on and in fact, we merely scratched the surface.

Spoiler alert: we did not win. It seems our idea was deemed too conventional, too well trodden as a theme. Sure, this argument is not new. Neither is it original. In fact you could argue we plagiarised the whole paper.

But does that really mean female empowerment is no longer considered radical?

Considering it took the UK 96 years to grant women the right to vote, it is clear that what made history was not unforeseeable and sudden. It was not unpredictable.

Radical change doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long process often with as many steps back as forward. It may be at the top of most company’s agendas but that doesn’t mean we should stop fighting for it.  

And that’s what writing this paper taught us: radical does not have to be new, instead it has to be uncompromising. Radical change requires time, effort, commitment, persistence and resilience. This is the secret to making change happen and overthrowing the patriarchal system. As long as the framework remains unchanged, our proposition remains radical.

Happy International Women’s Day. Keep denting that glass ceiling.



1 Response

  1. Hi!

    I reside in India, work at Wieden+Kennedy as a strategist.
    I relate with the sentiment. Over here, the divide between those who get it and the rest is very stark. In fact, dare I say, the sentiment might be stronger. That’s because Indian culture’s mythological context is of matriarchy, most powerful deity (Shiva) is androgynous and pre-Mughal (pure Hindu) civilizations had women in the highest ranks. So, it kind of sucks more because over here, we didn’t have Christianity to flip things around, and yet somehow we have managed to go in the wrong direction for so long.

    However, I am wondering why people might be getting bored with Feminism? And if they are, is revolutionary rhetoric to those who haven’t studied history, going to help? Also, how can we assume laymen (and especially the educated!) to correlate equality of opportunity with output efficiency?

    I think the definition of progress has to be challenged in order to create a new paradigm of value creation. The current metrics are based on notions which cause pain to all (even to men, only a few men at the very top reap extraordinary benefits). We have neglected emotions and spirit while calculating ROI. Everyone is stretched, depressed, pissed, high and confused.

    So, would love to actually read what you guys submitted. If possible.

    Keep up the good fight.


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