Traditionally, we’d hear about the “woman behind the man.” But these days, women seem to be emerging more front and center as we read daily news about their roles in consumer spending, corporate boardrooms, driving economic expansion as small business owners, and as major players in this year’s presidential election.
In 2008, Paul Bulcke took over the job of CEO global food giant Nestle. At that time, despite the fact that 80% of the company’s consumers were women, only 3% of managers in the company’s leadership pipeline were women. One of Bulcke’s top priorities when he took over was to put the issue of women and gender at the top of his Executive Committee’s agenda. In his own personal view, Bulcke felt that it was important for “women stay women” instead of the usual practice that for women to succeed in business they had to become tougher than men. During his tenure, the percentage of women on management teams increased from 15 to 21%, including women heading two of Nestlé’s five global Strategic Business Units and a female CFO at the corporate level.
Why would a CEO make such strides to increase women’s roles in management? In the case of Nestle, it was less about politically correct mandates and more about good business for a company that markets primarily to women. In addition to their intimate understanding of the products and target market, women tend to have inherent traits that make them valuable in the corporate environment: they aren’t afraid to ask for help, they tend to be great at building relationships, and they are skilled multi-taskers.
Women have been starting businesses at a higher rate than men for the last 20 years and these days more and more are quitting their jobs to become entrepreneurs – which may not be reflected in recent unemployment numbers. While women-owned businesses created only 16% of total U.S. jobs that existed in 2010, it is projected that they will create over half of the 9.72 million new small-business jobs expected to be created by 2018.1 Some of the reasons women are leaving the security of a job in today’s uncertain employment market have to do with job dissatisfaction, a poor value structure, and lack of work/life balance. The Guardian Life Index cites “office politics” as a driving factor for women leaving Corporate America to start their own businesses.1
Meanwhile, women continue to wield influence in politics whether running for office, positioning for running mates or being wooed for their vote in this year’s upcoming presidential election. In fact, more women have been running for positions in the Senate this year than ever before.
The influence of women – whether in major corporations, small businesses, government agencies or in the home – offers inarguably a different approach to solving problems and may well be one that can have a positive impact on this country’s recovery going forward. That’s just one reason why it’s important for women to be involved in professional consultations regarding finances – whether single or married. Please contact us to schedule a time to review your personal situation.
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