Friday, May 6, 2011

Women and Business: A Force for Good to be Reckoned With!

At the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit, The Dalai Lama said … "The world will be saved by the western woman.”

Every day I am finding more and more evidence of the wisdom of his statement. At a time in history when financial systems have been crashing and companies are collapsing from lack of integrity, transparency and accountability. A different way of doing business – and everything – is emerging and women, as well as minorities, are stepping up for the challenge.

In recent history, investments and business have struggled. Net private domestic investment in the US plunged 94% (to only $54B) from 2006 to 2009. While private investment spending has begun to recover, gross domestic investment in 2010 began to recover, but remained 21% below its peak in Q1 2006 and net private domestic investment remained about 64% below its previous peak. And in 2009, only 3.5% of all private investment spending went toward building up the capital stock. (Data, taken or derived from the most recently revised National Economic Accounts prepared by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, June 2010)

During this time, women entrepreneurs and fund managers are demonstrating a new type of business leadership and savvy that truly is setting the stage for a new type of business. The numbers and data are staggering and make the case for looking to women to not only change the face of business, but perhaps even as The Dalai Lama stated, play a leadership role in changing the world.

An Illuminate Ventures report ( found:
• Companies most inclusive of women in top management achieve 35% higher return on equity (ROE) and 34% better total return to shareholders versus their peers.
• The average venture-backed company run by a woman had achieved comparable early-year revenues, using an average of 1/3 less committed capital.
• Even these capital-constraints, women-owned businesses are more likely to survive the transition from raw start-up to established company than traditional companies.
• Despite this, in 2008 woman co-founded tech businesses gained less than 10% of venture investment while representing 30% of the workforce.

At the same time, during the period in which traditional investments were dropping, the average return on funds from 2000 to 2009 was 9% for women-managed funds compared to 6% index average. And in 2008, when the average fund’s value dropped 19%, women-managed funds dropped less than 10%. (National Council for Research on Women, 2010)

Data further shows that while women (and minority) fund managers manage less than 2% of retirement assets, they account for >40% of the top quartile of performing funds.

An article in World Pulse magazine ( aptly wrote:
Women manage money differently, and had there been more women at the helm of investment decisions all along, the worst of the global financial meltdown might have been averted.

The report finds that women—in charge of just 3% of hedge funds and 10% of mutual funds—are more patient and consistent with their investments. They are less apt to take overconfident risks and more likely to integrate detailed and conflicting data into their decisions. Moreover, women-owned funds are more stable and consistently outperform general funds with higher returns.

Microfinance pioneer Mohammed Yunus further demonstrated with Grameen microloans that when given the opportunity, women are more conscientious money managers, maximize/leverage resources and value money. Over 95% of the Grameen loans went to women with 95% good debts, a much higher rate of return than with male borrowers.

The case is growing. Yet despite the trend, there is still much work to be done to support and champion women business owners, leaders and fund managers as discrimination still exists (

Investing in women, and girls, ( could be the best thing you can do, or anyone can do for turning around the economy and getting an equal or better return on investment and in a company that not only creates an economic return, but also a social, environmental and planetary impact!

Maybe there really is something to The Dalai Lama’s wisdom. Whether, western women, or just women, in general, globally uniting to solve some of the planet’s most pressing financial, social and environmental problems – more effectively, more efficiently and more compassionately! Only time will tell, but my bet is that he is on to something!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at .

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