Womanomics is an unfamiliar word in our vocabulary. It isn’t a rant about the limitations society places on women. Womanomics is about giving women power and seeing companies make good business decisions.
Goldman Sachs Research
The fertility rate fell to 1.57 in 1989, so the Japanese government sought to increase the birth rate. They reduced the cost of raising children for working women. In the late 1990s, they introduced a childcare leave program, and increased the number of accredited childcare places.
It’s been 20 years since Chief Japan Strategist Kathy Matsui, and her team at Goldman Sachs Research, published their first “Womanomics” report. It was about the link between Japan’s gender employment gap and GDP.
Japan’s Female Labour Force
After the initial Womanomics report, in 1999, Japan’s female labour force participation rate rose to record levels. It surpassed both America and Europe. The economic benefits of continued improvement were sizeable. Goldman Sachs Research strategists estimated that closing the gender employment gap would lift Japan’s GDP by 10%.
Nick Lehman, spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2009. He looked at the dearth of women CEOs in investment banking. “If Lehman brothers had put a few sisters on board, the economic crisis may have been contained.”
Shino Abe’s Womanomics
Japan’s recently assassinated controversial Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe’s cabinet announced in 2012, that “Womanomics” was a key policy for economic growth. He recognized that female participation in the economy was low in Japan compared to other developed countries.
Women in management roles were just 15%. far from the global average. The government set a target of 30%.
According to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Act dataset, women made up 51% of employees in 2020/21. 26% of all CEOs and managing directors were women, compared to only 15% in 2019. The Fortune Global 500 reported an all-time high of 23 women CEOs running a global business. This included six women of colour.
Aim Of Womanomics
The principal aims of womanomics was to
(i) increase women in leadership positions,
(ii) eliminate childcare waiting lists by increasing the supply to childcare places, (iii) to encourage men to take more active roles in parenting, and
(iii) achieve better work and life balances and reduce the infamous long working hours of Japanese companies.
Women Are The Buyers
Women are the principal buyers and control 83% of consumer spending. They have recently crossed the 50% line in car-buying. Car companies had to stop playing to the male ego and needed to appeal to women.
Females are the major buyers of cosmetics and perfumes. Yet, male CEOs run most of the companies.
Brenda Barnes was CEO the first CEO of PepsoCo. She quit to spend more time with her children. Brenda returned to the business world 12 years later, in a top position at SaraLee.
Barriers To Womanomics
Women earn more college and advanced degrees than men. Barriers to female leadership have long persisted. They prevent women from advancing into top business management positions, such as boards and corporate leadership. The power of women is unrecognized because the glass ceiling is ever-present. Society continues in placing limitations on women despite women pioneers who changed the world.
Companies, employing more senior female managers have found their profit margin increased. Pepperdine University did a 19-year survey of Fortune 500 companies. Those with the highest record of promoting women outperformed the competition by anywhere from 41 to 116%.
Michelle Obama said in an interview in 2014, “Constant guilt surrounds working women and mothers, no matter what we do.”
Womanomics is about redefining success and building satisfying careers, which don’t require an all-or-nothing lifestyle. Companies who gave women more freedom in their working hours not only received loyalty but also higher productivity. Best Buy found productivity shot up 40%, when it started focusing on results, not face-time, for women.
Companies needed to get creative and offer flexible schedules, such as four-day work weeks, and extended vacations. That way they could avoid layoffs, save costs, and still reward employees.
Womanomics shows women how they can capitalize on their power, and how to redefine their work lives. Control of their time is the new currency for women.
Europe And Asia
Across Europe and Central Asia, women’s potential in business remains untapped, even though they are a source of talent and productivity. Women remain under-represented in business. Most of the women are in lower and mid-levels of management.
Since October 2020, 17% of economies in Europe and Central Asia have implemented at least one reform to improve legal equality for women. The region does well compared to other regions. However, there is still a wide variation in gender equality.
Constraits For Womanomics
The major constraints facing women include lack of affordable and quality childcare. Also, the double burden of domestic and professional work and access to safe transport. Plus, there is pressure to conform to gender roles.
In many industries, women may only perform certain types of work, through custom and legal constraints. Women should not blithely accept it when limitations are placed on them. A prime example of this is Ruth Ginsburg, American Supreme Court justice. It was women who fought the suffragette battle and Florence Nightingale changed nursing conditions.
Pay Gap And Equality
The pay gap between men and women is still around 25%. The COVID pandemic has expanded gaps in pay, access to finance, and digital opportunities for women. Investing more in education and training for women is an important first step.
One of the world’s greatest and most famous CEOs is Queen Elizabeth II. Every woman has a voice that needs to be valued and heard. In fact, there are many women pioneers who changed the world.
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