Few societal forces have been more impactful at elevating individuals up the socio-economic ladder than entrepreneurship. Not only does it generate wealth and opportunity for individuals, but it also propels society forward – resulting in better products and services as well as accelerating economic growth and promoting social change.
Increasingly, technology is providing a way for women in particular to climb this socio-economic ladder by placing power in their hands. This is why the theme for International Women’s Day this year was, ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality‘. The UN recognises that the widening digital gender gap is having a significant effect on the economic and social inequalities of the world.
As such, ascertaining how technology and social initiatives can be used to improve the lives of women globally is the responsibility of every leader capable of instigating change.
In this piece, I am going to explore the power of entrepreneurship, professional development, and career progression to reduce the economic inequality between the genders – and how advancements in technology are assisting this.
Based on my experience, I will also share some details around the women Tata Communications empowered internationally as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility and other volunteering activities, as well as our work with the S.H.E (School of Hope and Empowerment) initiative and United Women Singapore, mentoring programme.
Women have made great strides in the world of work over the past few decades. In many US cities for instance, women under the age of 30 are even earning more men than their age. And there are more female entrepreneurs, CEOs, and philanthropists than ever before.
But society still has a long way to go, and on this front, the technology sector presents an important milestone. Despite tech being one of the most modern sectors, it is male dominated, with 53% of technology organisations reporting men outnumber women by at least 3:1 in their workforce.
The world needs every person capable and willing to be able to actively participate if we’re collectively going to overcome the society’s larger challenges. And it’s in the best interests of everyone.
“The exclusion of women from the tech industry has cost the sector more than one trillion dollars, a number slated to rise to 1.5 trillion by 2025 if significant work isn’t done according to the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report.”
While according to McKinsey, it is estimated that companies globally with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organisational performance, showing just how important it is for business leaders to help drive gender equality.
And this is how technology can help – it gives individuals the ability to take the power back into their own hands. As the UN puts it: “A gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement”. But for these efforts to adequately address inequality, it needs to be the right sort of technology specifically geared at achieving this aim.
The more we empower women’s entrepreneurship and rid them of the shackles of sexism, the more we all win. And while this is a responsibility that falls on society, businesses have both the added responsibility and financial motivation to find creative ways to support these efforts.
Using inspiration and education to drive social impact
“Inequality isn’t just a societal ill, it is bad for business as well.”
our CSR and other volunteering activities. With a total of 422 volunteers participating from across the organisation – volunteering 1347 hours of their time – in FY23 we helped 3,877 women break down barriers and climb the socio-economic ladder.
Another part of our drive to reduce the economic inequality between genders is the S.H.E initiative in India. Launched in 2019, S.H.E. aims to close the glaring gap in rural areas between men and women when it comes to business development. Its uniqueness lies in the way it’s designed, resting on two pillars – inspiration and education – to drive large scale social impact.
Striking the heart of inequality
While CSR activities and entrepreneurship programmes like S.H.E are powerful, it’s important to realise that gender inequality manifests in several ways and can therefore be addressed through just as many solutions. And every step of the way technology can be used to support these efforts.
For instance, every organisation should have leaders asking themselves if they’re doing enough to empower women. Every business needs to create and nurture networks to foster entrepreneurship among their female employees. This goes a long way towards ensuring women workforce can build the confidence they need to thrive.
“Ending inequality and empowering women needs to become a business priority for every organisation if we’re going to prosper as a society and overcome the big challenges on the horizon.”
With ‘Women in Engineering Day’ on June 23rd here’s an opportunity for all of us to encourage women to consider STEM careers and echo the great work women engineers are doing across the globe.
Because when women win, the family, our community and the entire world wins.
To learn more about our S.H.E initiative, click here.