Equality is not just women’s business

It’s sad to see that in this day and age, gender parity is still far from a reality in many parts of the world. I’ve always felt strongly that the best places to work are those that foster an inclusive culture – one where differences are celebrated and our people can be themselves and feel at home.

At Virgin, we recognise that a culture that brings together a group of people who mirror the wonderful diversity of our world and who can promote diversity of thought is good for business. It’s a huge opportunity, not a challenge, and it’s great for the communities that we serve.

We’re proud to have many wonderful women in the ranks of our various Virgin companies. We’ve learned first-hand how much female leaders can be critical to the success of a business. Despite competing in sectors dominated by men, a number of our businesses are helmed by female leaders and employ women in senior roles.

Women like Virgin Money CEO, Jayne-Anne Gadhia; Virgin Sport CEO, Mary Wittenberg; Virgin Group Global Brand Head, Lisa Thomas; Virgin Megastore MENA President, Nisreen Shocair; Virgin Unite President, Jean Oelwang; Virgin Unite Managing Director Rosanne Gray; and Virgin StartUp Managing Director, Mei Shui (to name just a few) are not only advancing our business interests and culture, but are also helping to counteract gender biases in the industries in which they operate. Their leadership has been pivotal to the growth of the Group; helping us spot so many exciting opportunities, anticipate and navigate problems, and come up with original game-changing solutions. 

Business can and must do so much more to promote equality, respect and fairness. Removing barriers like discrimination and divisions is a necessity for business success. At Virgin, we have the desire to make a positive difference to people’s lives through changing business for good, so we have created an environment where all people can thrive – because of who they are, not in spite of it.

This International Women’s Day, I am supporting the Pledge for Parity. Currently, the World Economic Forum predicts that it will take until 2133 to achieve global gender parity. This is not good enough. Equality is not just women’s business; everyone – men and women – should be taking concrete steps to help achieve parity more quickly. We will all be far better off once we do.

Play your part: check out our Virgin Unite International Women’s Day blog series, and make a #PledgeForParity now.

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