The gender dividend
The business case for investing in women
Women may well be the dominant source of economic growth in the near future—and organizations that are able to capitalize on the roles women play as economic actors will most likely have a competitive advantage as the world pulls out of the global recession.
With a rapidly changing global economy, leaders are urgently seeking an effective method to sustain economic growth. While geography, industry, and technology are important considerations, gender is an imperative factor that cannot be ignored.
Talent is critical to staying competitive, but despite the growing number of qualified women in the workforce, the female talent pool continues to remain underutilized. In Europe, women make up 45 percent of the workforce—with more than half college graduates—yet they comprise only 11 percent of corporate executives. And with the increasing power of women as consumers, bringing women into decision-making roles is more important than ever to help tap this growing market. Already, women control roughly US$20 trillion of total consumer spending globally and influence up to 80 percent of buying decisions.
Acknowledging and investing in women can yield a significant return—a return known as the gender dividend. To fully capitalize on the gender dividend, however, countries and organizations must go beyond policies that focus on discrimination and develop solid strategies aimed at integrating women at every level. This will require building a strong, dual-focused business case that considers women as both workers and consumers that lays out the rationale behind why governments and organizations must look to women as key to their economic growth.