The enterprise has seen many cultural and technological shifts over the past decade. And while women still make seventy cents to every dollar, there are forces at work that may challenge traditional concepts of the business world. Welcome to the Womenterprise!
More Women, More Opportunities
According to the American Enterprise Institute, women earned a majority of doctoral degrees in 2011 for third straight year, and outnumbered men in graduate school 141 to 100. And regardless of what the latest political campaign ad tells you, the Department of Labor reports that women continue to have a lower unemployment rate than men and are less likely to experience long-term unemployment. The impact of these stats has the potential to lead to more women in the workplace — one billion to be precise.
What does more women mean? According to Booz and Co., who launched its The Third Billion campaign earlier this year, “if women's economical potential can be successfully harnessed and leveraged, it would be the equivalent of having an additional one billion individuals in the work force, contributing to the global economy: often referred to as the 'third billion.'"
Elements of Global Change
There isn’t just one reason why women are more ready than ever to participate fully in a global economy, but there are several elements that have empowered women around the world in developing, emerging and industrialized nations.
- Education: more access means empowerment. The United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) reports that more girls and women are in education than ever before, from primary through to tertiary education. However, there is still work to be done. Two thirds of the world’s illiterate adults — of which there are just under 800 million — are women, and less than 40 percent of countries provide equal access to education to both sexes.
Technology: According to a recent report from the Wireless Association, mobile technology has helped many under-served populations, from migrant and overseas worker communities to groups of women around the world engage, empower, and create communities.
Not only have more companies begun to develop women-focused apps that promote better education, health and access to agricultural information, but access to mobile technology has increased exponentially. The World Bank announced last week that three out of every four human beings worldwide now have access to a mobile phone. In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms.
Knowledge Sharing: As we know, having a company culture that supports and facilitates knowledge sharing can be instrumental to innovating, so you can only imagine the impact that sharing information can have on helping communities identify sustainable opportunities and development solutions.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sharing information is at the core of its mission and much research has show that “people-oriented and sustainable development can only realize its full potential if … information and knowledge are shared.” Of course, the advent of the mobile web and other telecommunications has helped facilitate more effective knowledge sharing.
Organizational Change Starts Here
More women in the global workforce presents an opportunity for those of us in the traditional workforce. Companies need to wake up and take action to make sure they are adapting to meet the needs of a changing global economy as well as a changing gender culture. Here are just a few things companies need to prepare for: