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Gender Leadership for the Future of Women and Girls

Jun 26,2017

By Edie Fraser, Chairman, STEMconnector® and Million Women Mentors

Thanks to Credit Suisse for hosting STEMconnector®’s Global STEM Talent Initiative and Million Women Mentors® (MWM) representatives here at Credit Suisse London Headquarters at this gender and inclusion Forum for Million Women Mentors® (MWM). Acknowledge this special day as we celebrate progress on the gender front and commit to the future, seeking numbers that show greater advancement. Set plans and beat the goals to mentor, sponsor, and advocate! Do whatever it takes to drive change.

As a sponsor of STEMconnector® and Million Women Mentors®, Credit Suisse plays an important role in helping advance the goal of gender mentorship and leadership in the IT industry. Laura Barrowman, Credit Suisse’s Chief Technology Officer, serves as the Credit Suisse “Executive Champion” for the Million Women Mentors movement. Together with companies like Credit Suisse, we can make a noticeable difference in the gender landscape through a combination of sponsorship and mentorship.

This forum and our research together provide the chance to understand gender in England, Europe, and global base lines including those from the USA and work together to advance women and girls. Let us also recognize organizational partnerships that are changing the face of women in science, technology, engineering and finance.

Million Women Mentors® (MWM) is close to 2 million in mentoring commitments that reach towards at least 20 hours a year from academic schools all the way up the corporate pipeline. Recognize the work of many organizations and the role of the private sector. We also focus on our public sector leaders driving commitments as well as the hundreds of women organizations making advancement a reality.

Review Credit Suisse Gender 3000The Reward for Change. This report is produced by the Credit Suisse Research Institute and discusses the global impact of gender diversity, beyond the financial services sector. It is based on a proprietary database of the 3,400 companies in the Credit Suisse Gender database. Gender diversity is key. This report reviews: The Rewarding Change in the Boardroom; The Women and Management in 2016; The 50% club; Female CEOs; Gender in Microfinance (Where women begin to gain some leverage); and perspective on venture capital and entrepreneurs and “Women Investing in Women.”  

 In 2016, The World Economic Forum highlighted the importance of encouraging more European women to go into ICT (Information and Communication technologies) which could in turn boost the EU’s GDP by 9 billion pounds a year, according to the European Commission. More than a decade ago, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions launched a European Charter for equality in May 2006.

The percentage of women on boards varies significantly between countries. It ranges from a high in Norway (38.7%) and Sweden (34.6%) to a low in Spain (18.8%) and Switzerland (16.1%). Quotas are contributing to increased board diversity in some countries. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Norway all had mandatory quotas from 2011–2015 and continue to diversify. France boasted the largest increases in percentage points in female board membership. With a 12-month countdown, some 7,000 UK companies will report board and advisory board results. The new gender quotas in France for boards and secondary boards have set a tough target. Credit Suisse’s research reports a 54% increase in board diversity since 2010. There is a wide disparity between countries despite all the studies showing stronger financial performance based on gender diverse boards.

Women in corporate management are increasing. However it is increasing slowly from the 3,400 country data in the Gender 3000: Credit Suisse Report. Women business heads have increased from 8.5% in 2014 to 9.9% in 2016. In Europe, operations roles increased slightly and CEOs remained around 3.9% (same as 2014). USA Women CEOs hover in the 6% range. There is a long way to go before reaching parity and decades of work to come. Those advancing results can attribute male leaders committing to gender success.

Diversity is growing in Asia with 22.2% women in Finance and Strategy. In a spring issue of Board Agenda, one article on “Mind the Gender Pay Gap” reports that new regulations require large private sector UK companies to publish yearly gender-based pay statistics.

Other European initiatives pinpoint rewarding gender diversity achievements within major companies, as well as areas such as entrepreneurship and venture capital support. Venture capitol gender leadership is increasing and some 22% of gender leadership is from owners and directors to associates. Europe is supporting the growth of women entrepreneurs, just as we are at Million Women Mentors®. Nearly 10 million women are contributing to the bottom line in the US. To give you one example, on May 3, 2017, the Women Startup Challenge Europe showcased 10 amazing, women-led tech startups at a pitch competition held at City Hall in London. Venture capital for women entrepreneurs is beginning to grow in Europe and the USA.

The lack of women in IT is a global, not just an American, problem. International Girls in ICT Day on April 28th, 2017, addressed the gender imbalance by encouraging and empowering girls and women to consider careers in computing. It called on governments and technology companies to do more to provide opportunities in the industry. Women in developed countries represent 26% of the STEM workforce and less in developing countries. 


Let’s take a quick look at women in finance and insurance. Currently, women in Sweden and Norway have the highest representation in finance overall. Japan and South Korea have the lowest. In finance and insurance, we salute Finland for working to move to 60.9 % women followed by France and Germany (source: Oliver Wyman, 2016). According to Grant Thornton International, women hold 25% of senior management roles in the global financial services industry. Study shows that women held 18 percent of global CFO roles, and the latest CS Report shows 14.1%. 

Women’s Equality Day is August 26th each year, and November is Science and Technology Month. Why can’t every day be celebrated for gender gains in science and technology and every day a commitment to change the numbers? Consider that up to 80% of jobs today require tech skills, and tech jobs are an answer to parity and pay equity or close to it.  All STEM jobs pay women close to parity; in tech, women are paid about 96 cents on a dollar compared to what women are paid across the board, 77 cents. Gain STEM skills, especially tech skills, and make tech careers a national priority. Read the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality can add $12 Trillion to Global Growth. Gender advancement in STEM and tech is about economic opportunity and equality.

Join me in saluting the roles that other Million Women Mentors® supporters are playing and let me provide two examples. Two examples: TCS and PepsiCo and other companies and organizations are driving change and building a clarion call for all to make commitments.   Join with them our own Million Women Mentors® (MWM) movement. Move the needle together far more quickly as we drive success. This means that we start with girls and look for progress for women through every stage up to senior management and to corporate boards. Back to April 28, 2016: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting, and business solutions organization, was named Platinum winner in the 'Empowerment of Women Award' category at the Global CSR Conference and Awards, recently held in Bali, Indonesia. TCS has built our Million Women Mentors® web site and has been at our side, along with PepsiCo, and so many others. I had the honor of writing a blog with PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, back in 2015, and we said about Million Women Mentors®:  “We’ve already seen some amazing progress, but imagine what could happen if every STEM professional made a commitment to mentoring one-on-one for just two hours a month. We could truly change the game.”

Poet and author Maya Angelou said, “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care.” We all care about the phones in our hands, the computers on our desks, and the cars that we drive. But we must care even more about the girls who want to invent, explore, and discover the newest tools and gadgets. As Melinda Gates has recently said, we can’t go to the same old elite institutions to recruit and train and expect to reach all organizations and institutions.  We need to assure that we move the needle beyond white affluent women and girls. Diversity is America today, and as I have preached for 30 years, whites will be the minority by 2050 or sooner, and already minorities are the majority in five states. We have no choice--build the mosaic now!

Tech skills impact 80% of jobs today. Women comprise about 24% of the tech and computer science industry, but this percentage has been declining or static for the past decade in the USA, and in most countries men are jumping ahead.  Most high school and university gender numbers are poor as are the requirements to teach computer science in all schools.

Jobs are open in every area of tech, and we must mentor, sponsor, offer great jobs, and share our successes. We must push to advance women and girls. Role models are vital. Write your own stories and blogs. Speak out and act, and most importantly, execute and report results. We released 100 CEO Leaders In STEM, 100 CIO Leaders, and 100 Diverse Leaders.  You can look for the 2nd edition and release of 100 Women Leaders in STEM by October, 2017. 

Back to the USA: The “Fearless Girl” is a symbol on Wall Street now staring down the bronze “Charging Bull.” The “Fearless Girl” represents the desire to build equality for finance (and STEM and tech) and has gained millions of media impressions and new commitments. Join together as fearless leaders and mentors achieve STEM success and gain great tech jobs in a world where tech is dominating finance and every other area. All of us can be catalysts for gender action, and girls and women can—and will—build our economic future, financial achievement, and success. Tech underlies all we do, so act now and COMMIT to mentor and sponsor as we join together to drive RESULTS.