Time's Up and the Time is Now for Women in Leadership

Time's Up and the Time is Now for Women in Leadership

At the tail-end of 2017 The New York Times published an investigative piece revealing accusations of sexual harassment against Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. The accusations dated back more than three decades.

Unless you’ve been studiously avoiding the world’s press and media in the intervening six months, you probably know how the rest of this story pans out.

The Weinstein case sparked an industry-wide reckoning: a domino effect driven by the press, stakeholder activism and public opinion that has sent the careers of some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry into terminal tailspin.

As all this unfolded in Hollywood, the #MeToo social media phenomenon quickly took the issue global.

Within hours of being shared on Twitter in October, the hashtag reached millions of users around the world. Facebook reported to CBS news that in the 24 hours following actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet, #MeToo had appeared in 17 million posts and comments.

As 2017 closed, Time Magazine named the #MeToo movement most influential “person” of the year.

Entering the second quarter of 2018, sexual discrimination seems to have become a defining issue.

The Oscars, #TimesUp, an unprecedented international women’s day strike that mobilized millions of women – these are the stories that have dominated international headlines.

And if the entertainment sector was a lightning rod for scandal in 2017, in 2018 the contagion is spreading to other industries.  And it’s spreading fast.

Tech, education, finance, politics – the scandals and accompanying public outcry continue to line up in the press like dominos.

There’s a palpable feeling that we are at something like a tipping point in awareness, culture and attitudes.

So what’s going on? And what does it have to do with MBAs?

Women, discrimination, disparity and doing something about it

Well, first there’s the endemic nature of the problem itself.  

In a poll published by The Washington Post and ABC News in February 2018, a third of U.S. women claimed to have received unwanted and inappropriate advances in the workplace from male colleagues – 25 percent saying that these advances came from men who held some kind of sway over their careers.

As many as 75 percent of women at work today have experienced sexual harassment, according to estimates by bodies such as ActionAid, YouGov and the Agency for Fundamental Right.

Sexual harassment, this says, is profoundly widespread and entrenched. It is an issue that has been permitted to fester over time.

It is likely that this has, at least in part, something to do with the gender-based power imbalance that continues to define the corporate environment.

Women today are more economically independent and socially autonomous than at any other time in history. But according to the EU’s gender equality league table, women still only account for seven percent of board chairs and presidents, and just six percent of chief executives in the largest companies.

The gender gap in employment in the EU is “wide and persistent,” says the index report, with the full-time equivalent employment rate of 40 percent for women and 56 percent for men. And while income disparity may have narrowed, women still earn on average 20 percent less than men.

And this, when the economic arguments for gender equality are overwhelming.

According to McKinsey, companies across all sectors with the most women on their boards of directors significantly and consistently outperform those with no female representation – by up to 41 percent in terms of return on equity, and 56 percent in terms of operating results.

Time’s up?

In 2018 discrimination is under the magnifying glass.

As prominent women in entertainment, business and politics call for the empowerment of others, there is a sense that there has never been a better time – or a more urgent imperative – for women to seek out the tools and resources to step up to leadership.

And to do something to redress the imbalance.

At Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), we actively encourage women to explore the opportunities, the learning benefits and the career advantages that an MBA is uniquely positioned to offer them.

We offer a spectrum of programmes, elective courses and female leadership networks to help define the issues that women face in the corporate environment – and the tools, insights, resources and leadership development frameworks to help women overcome them.

Women account for just over 37 percent of our MBA class of 2018 – 2 percent higher than the Financial Times average for world-leading Business Schools. And this is something we are proud of.

There is still a long way to go, but at RSM we understand that time’s up.

And that the time is now to support and empower women in leadership.

From the Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations to programmes, electives, research, networks, scholarships, coaching and mentoring, RSM is committed to helping women to reach their fullest potential, to contribute and to make a difference. Contact the MBA admissions team today to find out how our MBA can transform you as a leader. And how to make that happen.