Even in 2020 when we are making technological advances by leaps and bounds, women remain grossly underrepresented in all forums and sectors around the world. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship is no different. Although women’s participation in business has improved in the recent years, but we are far from attaining equitable hiring and equal pay. We need more women at the top table not just to bring in some balance but also to boost the economy.
The recent rise of Jane Fraser as the new Citigroup head was celebrated with much fanfare in US. She has swelled the number of female CEOs among the Fortune 500 companies to 37. To put it bluntly, out of America’s 500 top grossing companies, only 37 or just 7.6% are led by a woman. Fraser is also the first woman to lead a top US bank. While this in itself is a positive sign and show more businesses are now ready to welcome female leaders, the trend keeps fluctuating: there were 32 top executives in fortune 500 list in 2017, which shrinked to 24 in 2018.
Women are crucial to economic growth
Now that we have seen a glimpse of how meager the number of female entrepreneurs is, let’s understand why it is so important to have more women entrepreneurs. A study by McKinsey Global Institute found that advancing women’s equality could swell the world’s economy by USD $12 trillion ($28 trillion in the best-case scenario) by the year 2025. That’s roughly equivalent to the US and Chinese economies combined, stated the report. With better opportunities women entrepreneurs in India could add US$770 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, states a Mc Kinsey report.
Forbes Council Member, Talal Rafi has opined, “Instead of governments looking for foreign direct investments and tax cuts to grow their economy, I believe they should focus more on policies to advance women’s participation.”
Women are better leaders
Women have great untapped potential. A Harvard Business Review research shows that women surpass men in most leadership skills like, problem-solving, team working and innovation. The progressive success that women entrepreneurs have attained in recent years, despite the disadvantages and additional obstacles they have to face, is a testament to their immense potential.
Many leaders worldwide have echoed the sentiment that women bring more insights to the top table. Carla Harris, Vice Chairman & MD at Morgan Stanley stated that women are crucial to innovation. Hemant Gupta, MD of Zone Startups India, recently opined, “Women entrepreneurs are more creative, open minded and that’s exactly what we need to boost economy”.
Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO of Netflix while talking about inclusion at workplace said, women bring diversity and new experiences which is essential for creating products for consumers, as half of the consumers are also women. He further expounded that it is important for business success that product creators resemble product consumers.
Boosting women entrepreneurship
Advances towards gender equality have been made in the recent years due to conscious efforts undertaken globally and the results are visible. But, much more needs to be done. If we continue with our current ways, the world will be unable to attain gender parity even after 99.5 years, states the Global Gender Gap Report 2020.
Efforts must be made by both private and government sectors globally to boost women entrepreneurship and gender equality. Breaking social stigmas through awareness programs and policy reforms are required in the emerging economies like India.
Providing funding for women entrepreneurs is a crucial step towards encouraging women entrepreneurship. Arranging entrepreneurial mentorship to women and increasing women-focused networking opportunities are some of the most ardent needs of the hour. Finally, it is upon the business enterprises to practice equitable hiring, equal pay and foster a work culture where women get equal opportunities to climb up the corporate ladder.
Today, we have arrived at a stage when “Women Owned” label is not a stigma but badge of honor, but we have a long way ahead. Now, it is upon the global and business leaders to leverage the opportunity of growth that induction of women in the top table offers.