Gender equality as a precondition for economic and business sustainability…
Based on Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2016/2017, in innovation-driven economies, only six women for every ten male are engaged in early-stage entrepreneurship activities. Low female involvement in entrepreneurship activities is reported in Europe, where only 6% of women are involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity, and there are twice as many male early-stage entrepreneurs as female counterparts.
Germany, Italy and France report one of the lowest female early-stage entrepreneurship rates (with around 3% of the adult female population). The situation in Europe is not in line with gender-equality trends in Latin America/ the Caribbean and/ or Africa which report 17% and 15% of early-stage female entrepreneurs respectively. In addition, Latin America and the Caribbean show the best gender parity, with eight women engaged in early-stage entrepreneurship for every ten male entrepreneurs. Only three economies worldwide have equal or higher women entrepreneurship rates than men – Indonesia, Brazil and Malaysia. Based on GEM 20016/2017, women are more necessity-driven in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Europe; while in North America, Asia and Oceania there is no difference in motivation between male and female entrepreneurs.
What factors do inhibit the entrepreneurship dynamics among women? GEM experts underline that women and the youth often lack contact with successful entrepreneurial role models. The research shows that in general women do not have the same extent of business connections that men have; they often lack business planning expertise, coupled with higher fear of failure rates. Therefore, governmental policies and programs should be directly linked to female entrepreneurship, particularly at early business development stage.
According to GEM 2016/2017, many entrepreneurs (particularly women and the youth) are inhibited by high costs of IT infrastructure, which limits access to new markets and the sustainability of their business. The role and involvement of women in business should be particularly encouraged in high-tech industries. The data presented during the International Girls in ICT Day (2017) indicates that only 19% of ICT sector workers have female bosses, compared to 45% of non-ICT sector workers.
European Commissioner Mimica, (13/03/2017, the United Nations’ Commission, New York) revealed her position on economic empowerment of women in the changing world of work: “Fighting for women’s rights and empowerment is not just our moral, social or legal obligation. It is also a precondition for Sustainable Development and or tackling other challenges, including poverty, inequality, food security, health, and education. In 2015 alone, the EU allocated around 188 million EUR specifically for activities to promote gender equality. And by mainstreaming gender equality throughout all of our actions, in reality we invest closer to 2.5 billion EUR on women’s empowerment. In practical terms, this means providing both financial and non-financial support, including credit, insurance, technology, training, energy, health services – as well as improving business and policy environments. And working in partnership – with governments, civil society, social partners and entrepreneurs, and international organisations.”
GILE experts underline that the cultural dimension of femininity is critical for business sustainability, and we should focus on a great number of factors, such as process innovation, quality, CSR, human relations and psychological comfort at work, innovation climate, the match between organizational and employees’ expectations, employee versus organizational behaviour, process innovation, and many others. The role of women in business is undeniable, but the speed of improvement in gender equality worldwide is rather modest. Based on McKinsey’s research in gender equality in the workplace, it would cost the global economy around 1.5 to 2 trillion dollars to improve the situation, but it could create the value between 12 and 28 trillion dollars.
According to GILE experts, apart from focusing on female education, countries should encourage female entrepreneurship and employment. As for example, in Europe 60% of new graduates are women, but less than 5% of company leaders, and only 24% of board members are women (the Commission on the Status of Women : “Women and the future of work – delivering decent employment and access to the labour market”, New York, 13/03/2017).
So, where are you, SUPER WOMEN? Europe needs you!!!!