Alternative Investment

The female paradigm

As the Chinese would say, there is a Ying to every Yang, balance is what is needed for harmony in this world.

After a testosterone-appealing article on vintage cars last month, I would like to draw on Eastern philosophy to embrace my readers’ feminine side. I also want to ponder on another meaning to “alternative”, as in “existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or eco- nomic systems”. I am talking about investing in women.

Ladies: Here is some ammunition to spice some (unpleasant) conversations with male counterparts. Hav- ing had a corporate career in male-dominated industries (financial services and oil and gas) and function (finance), I know what it feels like.

Gentlemen: Silence your inner sarcastic voice and look at these telling statistics. Women control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending globally, according to the Harvard Business Review in 2009. This number is expected to reach $30 trillion by 2030.

According to business writer Tom Peters, women account for about 83% of all consumer purchase across any category of industries – yes, any category, cars, technology and real estate included.

Savvy businessmen, which I am sure you all are, it is time to further consider women as a powerful yet specific market.
A female presence at board level contributes to healthier and higher return on equity and total return for shareholders by up to 35% and 34% respectively, according to Catalyst, an organisation that promotes women in business.

l Women-led start-ups generate higher revenues per dol- lar of invested capital and have lower failure rates than those led by men. Additionally, twice as many experienced women as men set up their own business.

Shrewd investors that I know you certainly are, you want maximised returns and look for a derisked portfolio. Look no further. Invest in diversity. Proactively rebalance your investment criteria to allocate investment in women-led start-ups. 

More women are graduating from college than men – 2.6 million more female than male university students currently in the US.
At the end of last year, the EU, introduced a range of measures to increase transparency in the board appoint- ment process for 5,000 listed companies across Europe. Pressure is increasing to reach the 40% quota for female board membership, opening the door for unsuccessful female candidates to take legal action.

Wise leaders, that I hope you are, this is a wake-up call. If you want to compete in the talent war, if you want proactively to address the regulatory pressure on your own terms, invest in nurturing your next generation of women leaders.

If you are wondering what you can do to help kick off the process of improving the position of women, read the rest of this article in our August issue.

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