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.