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In the early 1990s the auto industry unveiled an innovation in car manufacturing: the airbag . By October 2001, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that airbags had saved more than 7,500 lives. But these first airbags also killed 195 people during this period, mostly children and women under 1.70 meters. The force of the airbag impact on small bodies was brutal and until then this data was unknown.
The reason? In those years, airbag tests were done with mannequins with exclusively male characteristics and not with measurements of shorter female bodies or children. It wasn’t until 2011 that the US government began requiring the auto industry to test “female” dummies. In Sweden, the road safety expert Astrid Linder had the solution because, together with her team, she designed EvaRid , the female prototype that helped manufacturers develop vehicles that would protect both men and women.
The story of the first female mannequin created by Linder reaffirms the importance of including more women in the work teams of various corporations. Without Astrid Linder’s vision, the auto industry could have taken longer to develop a safe driving option for us.
Diversity and female inclusion in companies is not a whim, but a necessity that benefits society and also companies. McKinsey & Company’s global Diversity wins: How inclusion matters study – surveying more than 1,000 companies from 15 countries – found that organizations with diverse and inclusive work teams have 25% or more chances of having earnings above the average, in relation to other similar companies.
Fortunately during these pandemic months, 78% of medium-sized companies are already promoting actions in favor of the desired gender parity and with it, generating a cultural change. 34% are focusing on creating an inclusive culture and ensuring equitable access to more development opportunities and 31% are committed to continuing with flexible work for the benefit of more women.
We know that cultural transformations do not happen overnight, but the priority is for industries to accelerate their processes of female inclusion by 2022. The pandemic brought some setbacks that must be alleviated. As if it were a choir where diverse voices with different harmonic qualities work for a common good; thus, companies must take advantage of equal opportunities both the talent of women and men.
In a post-pandemic world, the empathy, creativity, commitment and versatility of female leadership are needed, as well as assertive communication and a willingness to change. More women are also needed in work teams because precisely they are the ones who most support the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts of organizations.
Creating an inclusive environment in companies can start with some concrete actions such as the following:
1. Speak up for inclusion : Royal Bank of Canada considers it important that the organization’s executives and managers receive training on topics related to inclusion and diversity. Like this institution, my suggestion is that companies design a set of communication initiatives that encourage community members to build a solid culture of inclusion.
2. Diversity strategies: some companies such as GAP have a Diversity and Inclusion Council where an advisory group made up of corporate executives and organization leaders develop diversity and inclusion strategies. All the company’s actions on inclusion and diversity are also implemented in its business strategies.
3. Professional development programs : invest in the development of educational programs and / or leadership programs that ensure the company has a portfolio of talented and high-potential women; while it gives women the option of developing a career.
4. Celebrate employee differences: Diversity and inclusion behaviors should be celebrated. This is one of the most important ways to show employees that they are respected.
In a few days we will celebrate the arrival of 2022. Many companies prepare their action plan on issues of equality and inclusion because they know that creating diverse work teams that promote an inclusive culture has a positive impact on both society and their business strategies . We are stronger when we run a business that cares about its communities and the world we live in.