Why Financial and technological inclusion of women really matters…
‘’There is no limit, to what we women, can accomplish’’-Michelle Obama
I start this article with Michelle Obama’s quote as to how powerful women can be for an obvious reason. We live in an era where women are not silent anymore; the only limit we have is in our head. There is a lot going on from the #Metoo movement to the #equalitycantwait movement initiated and supported by Melinda Gates, to an entire Women20 conference and UN Women organization, all existing with the whole purpose to empower women, draft action plans and milestones of women inclusion into different segments of our global society activities.
In this article I would love to focus on two main areas as I hold them dear to my heart, considering I work in these industries and, therefore, I’m surrounded-in 90% of the case-by men! There is not a single time that I go to a financial conference or technological event and I notice that most of the speakers are mainly men; that most debates are done in between men, and the decision-making environment is mostly run by men. There is not a time that I don’t notice that women entrepreneurs have less funding, less resources, and generally, women professionals are paid less. Let me briefly make my point through three main reasons, why I believe women will shape the future of Finance and Technology.
- Women are essential to Economy growth
It’s not just about gender equality anymore, it’s about Smart Economics. According to statistics 49,5% of the world population is indeed Women, so we are roughly half of the world population. But wait.. you’ll be shocked to know that only 48% of Women are an active workforce compared to 75% of Men. It’s disappointing, right? It gets even worse when Word Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap in the US will approximately close in 108 years from now and the gender parity will take approximately 202 years.
Now just imagine what kind of growth we would expect if these kinds of data would change! The economic empowerment of women is set to increase the GDP by 6 trillion USD, and therefore, the gender gap existing today is costing the world around 15% of its GDP.
How can we do all of this? It sounds like big numbers with big plans and big commitments! It’s very simple actually, everything can be done if Education is at the core of everything. Meanwhile, I work in the innovation and technology industry and, recently, I stumbled upon a research made by LinkedIn in establishing what are the main skills needed for 2020.
Take a very close look at the Top Hard Skills and tell me how many women do you think are in that particular industry?
Very few! Why? Women are ignored in that regards amongst many others!
- Ignoring Women has a very high cost!
Society led us to think that we are not smart or capable enough to perform in any of the above “hard core” industries; but this kind of past positioning is costing Society aka “All of us” a lot in terms of economic development and prosperity.
Ignoring women in every kind of industry but particularly in Finance and technology leads to disaster. According to World Economic Forum and their reports on-let’s call it for the sake of this article: “The Cost of Ignoring Women’, there is at least a $700 billion global revenue opportunity in better serving women as customers, and in including them in the Financial World so dominated by men.
Women have shown-through studies-that they are actually more prompt to perform better in certain industries (attention here, we are not better, we perform better). Let’s take for example an industry very highly dominated by men, Financial Markets Trading. Although women are only 19% of this multi-trillion dollar market, in this report, statistics show that even though women have lower incomes and they deposit less into trading accounts, they have higher profits. This is not only BrokerNotes report, this comes also from studies made from Fidelity, one of the largest investment companies worldwide. Women themselves believe that they are not better investors than men, even though evidence shows the contrary. Their investments and choice of portfolio over the years is more accurate and more profitable in terms of ROI.
Operating in such fast-changing times and volatile environment, overlooking women can be the biggest mistake that the financial industry can make. This is approximately costing banks $65 billion new revenue annually, costing $30 billion in new net-interest for female-led SMEs, $25 billion in new investment fees, $500 billion new insurance premiums, and around $80 billion of the existing market is at risk, simply because the current financial market is too busy to make strong, long-lasting relationships with women clients!
Such a pity, considering that the world would be a better place if biases are left aside! We do have aggression, ambition and dominance, it’s just manifested differently! Unfortunately, “Different” is something greatly feared.
- Digital Transformation waits for no gender
As technology becomes intrinsic to our daily lives and activities, you can’t avoid noticing that women have 26% less access to mobile internet and digital technologies globally (one of the most discussed topics in W20 Japan in 2019, and reported exclusively in this paper here. On the other hand, women driving the digital transformation and engaging in Scientific fields (STEM) are only 30% worldwide.
We’re on the verge of the 4th industrial revolution; our lives are impacted and changed every day from new emerging technologies. It’s estimated that 60% of the global GDP will be digitized by 2022. We’re talking here about digital economies, digitized industries, but still, women (who are 50% of the world’s population), make only 21% of technology executives.
Why are women really needed in technology, apart from the fact that we deserve equality?
This should not be just a PR oriented effort from companies worldwide. If they carefully did their homework, they would learn to involve women not just because they care about equality, but because it will highly improve their businesses!
It is proved through clinical studies that “Diversity” as a phenomenon increases creativity and innovation. Even men are more creative and innovative when surrounded by women and not only men. Women tend to also think differently, from multiple perspectives and angles (let’s face it, we all know it) women are proven to be more efficient and effective at multitasking. Women have the ability to be more empathetic and therefore enable design-thinking faster, and diversity in thinking leads to proved better problem-solving. Women are again ignored when it comes to technically enhancing products that are women-oriented! There’s an entire marketplace of products that serve women that men simply don’t understand because they don’t experience in real life (blame mother nature, not us)! Furthermore, tech-talent is lacking worldwide, it’s the field that needs more education, involvement, effort, and we’re simply not there!
Doesn’t matter at which angle you look at it, women have the power to shape the future economies and digital transformation of the world as we know it today. Women in Tech now, will enable more Women in tech tomorrow!
By, Loredana Manushaqa, Innovation Management Consultant, Researcher, & Trainer.
To know more about the author, visit this link.