By Clementina Oliveras – Founder of Wander
The 2016 United States presidential election spurred an international conversation around the power of women and their role as leaders in politics, business and social affairs. The outcome of the election ignited not only a passionate outcry, but also a movement involving women of all races, ages and ethnicities. The Women’s March reflected the power to unite and fight for a common purpose, to overcome any challenge and have our voices heard.
The support that the Women’s March received put a spotlight on women everywhere and the works of powerful women leaders who have dedicated their life’s work to improving the lives of those around them. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that women own close to 10 million businesses, accounting for $1.4 trillion in receipts. Not only are these women entrepreneurs financially contributing to the backbone of our society, but in addition, their presence in leadership roles aid in the overall morale of corporate life.
Women are the heart of CSR
The National Association for Females Executives (NAFE) reported that women make up an average of 28 percent of the corporate executives across the country, including 30 percent of those reporting directly to the CEO and 41 percent of the executives in the top tenth percentage of all earners. Not only are women leading in executive positions, but women are also striving to bring humanity and social responsibility to the forefront of business models. Studies have shown that businesses with more women at the top are better at implementing corporate social responsibility than businesses that are led by men alone.
It might sound like a stereotype, but women tend to be natural-born nurturers. It is through their care for others that they bring this sense of responsibility to the heart of the businesses they work for and to the communities that they serve. When companies are founded on this idea of social responsibility from the very start, the true essence of the company pulses through every aspect of the business and gives life to a sustainable future.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) must be found at the core of the business in order to serve both those who work for the company and those who cannot help themselves in order to build a sense of unity that transcends the workplace. Businesses like S'well and Wander, both founded by women who were dedicated to creating an environmentally and socially responsible future with their companies, have found ways to contribute to society while ensuring long-term financial success at the same time. Evidence links companies who practice the shared value model to financial success, proving that when companies routinely give back to the communities around them, they will reap the benefits both morally and financially. There is no doubt that with women and CSR at the core of business strategy, companies will not only be successful, but will also promote a work environment that builds morale and long-standing relationships with both employees and customers.
Women’s impact on business
While there have been great strides to better accommodate women in the workplace, there is still more work to be done. For example, the U.S. is the only nation that does not guarantee paid family leave to working moms and dads. Federal law only offers eligible new parents 12 weeks of unpaid leave and job protection under The Family and Medical Leave Act. Businesses who make the necessary accommodations to meet the needs of women who are dedicated to building their business and the community around them will ensure a sustainable future for their company and, ultimately, society as a whole.
According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. This would not only benefit entrepreneurs and both public and private sectors, but also NGOs worldwide. Empowering women who are passionate about creating environmentally and socially responsible businesses will clearly be profitable for us all. For example, Opportunity International, one of Wander’s partners, is an organization that is dedicated to providing loans to people in developing countries and 95 percent of their beneficiaries are women. Businesses must lead the way to put gender inequality behind us once and for all and work together both male and female to ensure a sustainable future for our world.
The world will greatly benefit from women taking an active role in business, either in traditional business with strong CSR practices or triple bottom line businesses. Women must continue to break barriers and take on leadership roles to participate and transform the way we do business and ultimately enhance our social and professional environment around the world.