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‘How remote work is bridging gender gap’

By Benjamin Alade
05 April 2022   |   2:50 am
Flexible, hybrid work is here to stay. That was the prevailing sentiment from Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index (WTI). This is good news for innovation. Why? Because innovation surges

FILE PHOTO: The Microsoft logo. REUTERS/ Mike Blake<br />

Flexible, hybrid work is here to stay. That was the prevailing sentiment from Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index (WTI). This is good news for innovation. Why? Because innovation surges when diversity increases, and one thing that remote and hybrid workplaces have enabled is more diverse hiring.

These were the words of the Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Ola Williams, in Lagos.

According to her, the WTI noted that remote-work opportunities were found to be more attractive to diverse applicants: women, Gen Z job seekers (those currently aged 18 to 25), and those without a graduate degree were more likely to apply for remote positions on LinkedIn.

She said that for gender diversity in the workplace, remote work is driving much-needed improvement. According to her, global statistics on gender equality in employment revealed a deeply entrenched disparity, with men participating more in the labour force and advancing more within it than their female counterparts.

“Alarmingly, if we remain on the current hiring and promoting trajectory, it will take just over 135 years to close the gender gap worldwide. This was the finding of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its latest 2021 Global Gender Gap Report.”
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She noted that the pandemic has widened this gap, with WEF sharing early projections that show five per cent of all employed women lost their jobs in the resulting economic disruption, compared with 3.9 per cent of employed men.

Williams said women are also poorly represented in the ‘jobs of the future’ sector. According to her, such roles arose alongside digital transformation, which accelerated rapidly in response to the pandemic with businesses being forced to operate online during lockdown closures of physical spaces.

“WEF found that only two of the eight jobs of the future that they tracked had reached gender equality. For example, there is only 32.4 per cent of women in Data and AI-focused roles across the world.

“Looking at the category of Economic Participation and Opportunity, WEF reported favourable results for sub-Saharan Africa, with the region having closed just over 66 per cent of the gender gap, outperforming the global average of 58.3 per cent,” she stated.

She, however, said homing in on a per-country view showed this progress varies wildly, adding that out of the 156 countries surveyed globally, Nigeria comes in at 139 on the list for overall gender parity, placing it at number 32 out of the 35 countries surveyed across sub-Saharan Africa.”

The Microsoft Nigeria boss said the country fares far better looking at gendered hiring and promoting, ranking 78 globally in the Economic Participation and Opportunity category. She said that while participation between men and women in the country’s labour force showed slight disparity (19.9 million women versus 22.9 million men), senior roles are largely gendered in favour of men. Just fewer than 14 per cent of Nigeria’s firms have women in top management positions.

Clearly, she said more work must be done to bridge the employment gender divide in Nigeria.

“Being able to work remotely has opened many new career opportunities for workers across the globe. Not being confined to one geographical area means the ability to accept jobs based anywhere,”