By Genius Wong
Few societal forces have been more impactful at elevating individuals up the socio-economic ladder than entrepreneurship. Not only does it generate wealth and opportunity for individuals, but it also propels society forward – resulting in better products and services as well as accelerating economic growth and promoting social change.
Increasingly, technology is providing a way for women, in particular, to climb this socio-economic ladder by placing power in their hands. As such, ascertaining how technology and social initiatives can be used to improve the lives of women globally is the responsibility of every leader capable of instigating change.
Women have made great strides in the world of work over the past few decades. In many US cities for instance, women under the age of 30 are even earning more men than their age. And there are more female entrepreneurs, CEOs, and philanthropists than ever before.
But society still has a long way to go. Despite tech being one of the most modern sectors, it is male-dominated, with 53% of technology organisations reporting men outnumber women by at least 3:1 in their workforce.
And inequality isn’t just a societal ill, it is bad for business as well. The exclusion of women from the tech industry has cost the sector more than one trillion dollars, a number slated to rise to 1.5 trillion by 2025 if significant work isn’t done according to the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report.
And this is how technology can help – it gives individuals the ability to take the power back into their own hands. As the UN puts it: “A gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement”.
But for these efforts to adequately address inequality, it needs to be the right sort of technology specifically geared at achieving this aim.
While this is a responsibility that falls on society, businesses have both the added responsibility and financial motivation to find creative ways to support these efforts.
Closing the gender gap
At Tata Communications, we drive to reduce the economic inequality between genders such as through the S.H.E (‘School of Hope and Empowerment’) initiative in India. Launched in 2019, S.H.E. aims to close the glaring gap in rural areas between men and women when it comes to business development. Its uniqueness lies in the way it’s designed, resting on two pillars – inspiration and education – to drive large scale social impact.
While CSR activities and entrepreneurship programmes like S.H.E are powerful, it’s important to realise that gender inequality manifests in several ways and can therefore be addressed through just as many solutions. And every step of the way, technology can be used to support these efforts.
For instance, every organisation should have leaders asking themselves if they’re doing enough to empower women. Every business needs to create and nurture networks to foster entrepreneurship among their female employees. This goes a long way towards ensuring women workforce can build the confidence they need to thrive.
Ending inequality and empowering women needs to become a business priority for every organisation if we’re going to prosper as a society and overcome the big challenges on the horizon.
Because when women win, the family, our community and the entire world wins.
Genius Wong is the executive vice president – core and next-gen connectivity services, and chief technology officer at Tata Communications