Acronyms abound in discussions on emerging economies: Brazil Russia India and China are an instantly recognisable BRIC and to those in the know, CIVETS are Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa.
WOMEN of course is not an acronym, I’m using capital letters to acknowledge an economic power that is both closer to home and more universal in its impact. It’s not new either, but it’s only just being properly recognised and evaluated.
As part of investigations into the wider diversity agenda, several analyses have indicated that ‘womenomics’ is a force to be reckoned with. In her iponymous paper,
Kathy Matsui, managing director of global investment research at Goldman Sachs, suggests that raising women’s employment levels could drive GDP growth by 15% in Japan, and that rising gender equality will also boost many of the BRIC and CIVET economies.
Closer to home Annabel Smith, head of diversity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Morgan Stanley, says that increasing numbers of women in the client-side commercial arena demands an equivalently diverse response from the services provider side. There’s increasingly acknowledgement that new business can be lost by a team that is appropriately representative. On the domestic front, women as a consumer force is already well understood. In the UK women control spending on 80% of food and 51% of household goods; the retail therapy syndrome is key to the luxury brands market, and women even control 40% of purchases of men’s clothes. Superdry, Burberry and Tesco come to mind as notable beneficiaries of this phenomenon.
At the end of the day, even the most diversity-cautious amongst us must acknowledge that it’s all just about optimising shareholder value, isn’t it?