Just one year ago, when surveying the representation of women in the global workplace, I asked whether we were amidst a "snowball" moment or a "Sisyphus" moment – meaning whether all the hard-won advancements in gender equality over the last few decades were building momentum towards break through, or taking two steps back with every step forward.
This year, on International Women's Day 2017, I think many international business leaders are asking the same question. We appear to be amidst a worldwide inflection point, and the answer is not entirely clear.
Despite global recognition that women's empowerment is good for business, the economy and society, many women of the world today do not feel equally valued. Many workplaces are too dominated by unconscious bias against women, and it is the role and responsibility of the global business community take this fundamental problem seriously.
In the last year we've witnessed more women of all backgrounds come together to champion their own rights, desires and beliefs. As they join arms and voices, more attention is being turned to important issues like equal opportunity, parental leave, executive representation and pay equity. But there is still much work to do.
Women's participation in the global labor force is actually on the decline, dropping from 52.4 percent in 1995 to 49.6 percent in 2015, according to the International Labour Organization. And according to a 2016 review of 1,000 listed companies by Bloomberg LP, the average representation of women in leadership was 23 percent in senior management; 21 percent on boards. Among those companies, 4 percent have a female chairperson and only 3 percent have a female CEO.