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In a recently aired The Indicator from Planet Money podcast episode from NPR, hosts Sally Herships and Wailin Wong addressed the gender disparity in investment, emphasizing women’s lower participation in financial markets and the resulting negative consequences for their retirement savings. Herships and Wong also stressed the compounded challenges for women, considering both lower earnings and longer life expectancy.

Saumitra Jha, a Stanford professor and author of the investing study ‘Trading Stocks Builds Financial Confidence and Compresses the Gender Gap’, shared a potential solution to the problem. Jha’s research found giving women a small financial push, akin to a “baby-bird-out-of-the-nest-sized push”, there were notable improvements in financial literacy, and propensity to invest increased by as much as 21 percent.

Financial advisor Blair duQuesnay explained that women are often stereotyped as “good listeners and more empathetic” before adding that they also prove to be strong investors. “Women tend to underestimate their abilities, and men tend to overestimate their abilities, and that is true when it comes to investing as well,” she said.

The episode underscores the importance of building confidence and imparting effective investment strategies to empower women and narrow the gender gap in financial markets.

Across the Great Divide

World Vision and VisionFund International have jointly introduced the Strong Women Impact Fund, a US$100 million debt fund aimed at bridging the financial gender gap for rural women globally.

Unveiled at the 2023 Concordia Annual Summit in New York City, the fund focuses on providing innovative financial products to empower the least financially privileged women, fostering financial resilience, household wellbeing and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Women constitute vast untapped potential but they currently face a nearly US$320 billion credit access deficit, hindering their economic progress. The Strong Women Impact Fund addresses this issue by offering four key loan products and embedded health insurance coverage.

The fund aligns with World Vision’s 2030 plans for economic empowerment, water sanitation and hygiene in 24 strategically selected countries. Additionally, it adheres to the 2X Challenge criteria, with a significant emphasis on female leadership and employment within VisionFund.

With a gender lens approach, the fund is expected to empower over 200,000 women, lifting families out of poverty and fostering thriving communities. The initiative showcases the commitment of VisionFund and World Vision to support vulnerable rural women through investment, training, support and micro-financing.

The She-Suite

A 2016 study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics reveals that firms with greater gender diversity in leadership positions are more profitable. Despite women comprising nearly 40 percent of MBA graduates and managers in the United States, global corporate boards and C-suites lack female representation.

The study surveyed 22,000 firms globally, finding that in 2014, 60 percent had no female board members, over half lacked female C-suite executives and only five percent had a female CEO. Norway, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria, however, exhibited higher female representation.

The study discovered a positive correlation between profitability and gender diversity in leadership. Transitioning from no women in corporate leadership to a 30 percent female share correlated with a 15 percent increase in profitability. The impact was even greater with more women in the C-suite compared to having a woman as CEO or on the board.

The study emphasizes the need for policies investing in and supporting female advancement and suggests that initiatives addressing gender diversity throughout the corporate hierarchy have a more significant and sustainable impact than quotas for board membership.

Twenty Companies Appointing First-Ever Female CEOs in 2023

These are the companies that broke new ground and invested in company’s first-ever female CEOs in 2023:

1. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Australia

2. Bermuda Tourism Authority, United States

3. BT Group, United Kingdom

4. Coles, Australia

5. Cushman & Wakefield, United States

6. Diageo, United Kingdom

7. French Bee, France

8. JD.com, China

9. Korea Gas Corporation, South Korea

10. Man Group, United Kingdom

11. Naver Corp, South Korea

12. Philadelphia Zoo, United States

13. Qantas, Australia

14. Suntory Beverage & Food, Japan

15. The Central Bank of the Republic of Türkiye, Türkiye

16. Under Armour, United States

17. Vodafone, United Kingdom

18. Welsh Rugby Union, United Kingdom

19. Wesdome Gold Mines, Canada

20. X (formerly Twitter), United States

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