Where are the Women in the Global Future Discourse?

Special Report from the World Economic Forum
by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

It has been hard not to notice that speaker after speaker here in Davos are men. Where are the women in these conversations?

This year, for the first time, the World Economic Forum introduced a gender quota that one in five delegates sent by strategic partners must be female. Women have never made up more than 17% of total attendees at the Forum. This is not surprising given that women hold less than 3% of Fortune 500 CEO positions.

My concern is not only about gender equality. We need to ensure that young girls around the world have role models that can inspire them to serve and lead to create a more just world. Who will enthuse the next generation of women?

Further, having women in management is fiscally smart, according to this McKinsey survey. Companies with more women in key executive positions were found to deliver a 34% higher return to shareholders.

All of our organizations, local and global, should strive to better model gender equality. It is not only just but also good for business and the global future.

G-d says in the creation story “Lo Tov Heyot Ha’Adam Livado,” it is not good for man to live alone. Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, repeats that it is “lo tov” for Moshe to lead alone. The statement to Adam was a human existential point while the point to Moshe was a political strategic point.

It is “lo tov,” neither wise nor just, to live or lead alone. May the Jewish community in the coming decade lead the way in ensuring that all voices are present in molding our future.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is the Senior Jewish Educator at the UCLA Hillel, Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek, and a fifth-year doctoral candidate in moral psychology and epistemology at Columbia University.