Gender equality is making steady progress in the chemical industry. Over 35 percent of chemists are women, and that number continues to increase.1 A 2017 study by Bloomberg shows that chemical engineers in the US who are women have now reached pay parity with their male colleagues.2 Last year was also the first time for the chemical sector that the number of women in business roles exceeded that of women heading human resources, which signals a shift in the types of responsibilities women are now assuming.
Improved diversity is supported through government policies, corporate initiatives, and a growing number of groups and professional networks dedicated to helping women advance their careers in chemical companies.
Global chemical companies including Akzo Nobel Coatings and PPG Industries are implementing policies to make it mandatory for equal pay irrespective of gender across their business operations.
At the same time, a number of national laws now encourage or mandate gender parity in chemical companies. The French government passed a major gender-equality law in 2014 that promotes gender parity in the workplace.3 In the UK, a new law requires that companies publish their gender pay gap.4 German companies are mandated to reach a target of 30 percent or more women representatives on their boards.
In the US, there are no legal requirements that specifically target the participation of women on boards of US companies. However, several grassroots campaigns aim to accelerate the rate at which companies increase participation by women.5
Global Sector Head of Energy & Natural Resources, KPMG in the US
“I'm a passionate believer in diversity at all levels. Industries have made great strides to improve our diversity mix, but we still have a long way to go. I'm encouraged by what I see as a widespread recognition that yes, we have a gap and an opportunity to close it. It's still a work in progress."
Vice President, Head of Advanced Surface Solutions, Business Unit Additives, Clariant Plastics & Coatings AG
“Gender equality should be part of a company's culture - but always alongside other important things like development, engagement accountability or performance orientation. The point is, you have to deliver results, regardless of being male or female.”
Senior Vice President, Intermediates, NA, BASF
“Diversity and inclusion are enablers that allow gender equality to happen. If you have an environment that's diverse and inclusive, then gender equality isnt even a topic; it's simply what the company is. Our customers (and their customers) as well as our suppliers are diverse and they want to do business with companies that share the same values as they do. We definitely understand the business case for gender equality and we made it part of our culture at BASF.”
Chief Human Resources Officer, Benjamin Moore & Co.
“Men and women are not the same, and our differences are a huge asset for all of us. But nobody has any easy fix; progress is a matter of a series of impactful but manageable steps that will make a real difference. The biggest challenge is to understand that we have this issue to begin with. We need to be aware of where we are and the future state of where we want to be.”
1 Closing the Gender Gap in STEM Fields, Girls in Tech, 17 March 2017, https://girlsintech.org/2017/03/17/closing-the-gender-gap-in-stem-fields/
2 Women Close Gender Pay Gap in Two Stem Jobs, Lag in Others, Bloomberg, 2 June 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-women-stem-job
3 France passes sweeping gender equality law, Reuters, 6 August 2014, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-women-idUSKBN0G61OO20140806
4 Gender pay gap law could have significant impact, say experts, The Guardian, 6 April 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/06/gender-pay-gap-law-could-have-significant-impact-say-experts
5 Gender Parity on Boards Around the World, Harvard Business Review, 5 January 2017.