November 11: why women deserve to celebrate Women's Day twice a year


11 November 2022

Whoever says 11 November immediately thinks of ‘Armistice Day’. But on that day in Belgium, we also celebrate National Women's Day. Although women are already celebrated worldwide on the 8th of March, in Belgium we like to honour all women on this extra day.

And rightly so, because there is still too little attention paid to gender equality. Diversity is insufficient in the workplace too, and there is still a pay gap.

Özlem Simsek, who has headed international recruitment agency Robert Walters in Belgium for many years, explains.  

Room for improvement 

In 2021, 39% of all directors in Belgium were women. A few years ago, that counter stood at 33%. This is a positive trend, but we still have a long way to go. Özlem: "According to the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, Belgium ranks 13th when it comes to gender equality. That is not bad, but of course there is always room for improvement. Germany, for example, is higher on that list. Women today are still paid less than their male colleagues, even if they do the same work."  

According to the same report, the wage gap will not be completely closed until 2186. Even when it comes to education and healthcare, women around the world are still disadvantaged. There is still a lot of work to do to make our world a better place for women.  

Women more educated than men  

On average, women are better educated than men. In Belgium, 56% of women aged between 30 and 34 had a higher education diploma by 2021. By comparison, ‘only’ 43% of men had completed higher education. "That really goes to show how strange it actually is that still less than half of drivers are women. After all, those figures are totally disproportionate to the number of women at the top of the corporate world," says Özlem. 


Although there are already more women directors than there were five years ago, there are still a lot of inequalities. How can these be tackled? Özlem has been advocating for more diversity in the workplace for years and therefore calls for organisations to communicate more clearly around this internally. "It really helps to set objectives and a strategy beforehand, which can be measured afterwards. By communicating these objectives more clearly to everyone in the organisation, everyone will automatically become more supportive," Özlem believes.

Benefits of diversity in the workplace 

More and more organisations are recognising the benefits of diversity in the workplace. That’s a good thing, because a healthy mix in the workforce boosts productivity, creativity and involvement of everyone in the organisation. For candidates themselves, an organisation's employer brand and culture play an increasingly important role and can even be decisive in their decision whether to choose a particular new employer. "To attract diverse professionals, and meet the expectations of potential employees, organisations need to commit to social and sustainable business practices. This can be done by making an assessment for themselves: 'How can we ensure more diversity and inclusion?' 'How do we deal with the welfare and safety of our employees and the environment?' 'And what specific steps can we take in this regard?' Answering these questions will help decide whether the organisation's mission and vision should be revised, for example, and hopefully create more equality in the workplace," Özlem concludes.  


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