The work continues in Davos especially for the Brit pack who are here in earnest. David Cameron, George Osborne, Chris Huhne, and Greg Barker are all in town today. George Osborne hosted a lunch for British businesses, and Greg Barker held a table on energy, at which he announced CP3, a £150 million investment in green energy from the public sector. He said that this (hopefully) will achieve a 30 times larger investment from the private sector. Whilst these two sessions show the UK’s leading position in business and the issues of climate change, the Forum is dominated with the rest of Europe’s anger at the UK’s stance on the financial transaction tax.
A depressing statistic though, the number of female delegates in Davos has only increased from nine to 17 percent in ten years. The panel on “Women’s importance in global economics and Women as the Way Forward” which addressed this issue included the First Woman Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra, the first female President of Chile Michelle Bachelet Jeria, The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. Their consensus was that in order to generate better profits, institutions need to encourage women to participate in the growth of the global economy.
Most businesses hire people based on merit, not because of their gender. But we do need greater diversity in the workplace. Sheryl Sandberg believes that we have an ambition gap at society level in the underdeveloped world. In the developed world there is an ambition gap at the personal level. She said we do not raise daughters to be as ambitious as boys, so there is a need to equalise gender at home. Also when men get more powerful and successful they are more liked, but this is the opposite with women. Desmond Tutu added that when men tell you something of importance, it is a story about themselves. When women tell a story it is about someone else. How telling is this!
There’s positive news too, Thailand has just launched a fund focussed on helping women develop in a male dominated world. They need the ambition to lead as well and this is important, but in most cultures this had traditionally been frowned on. It is all about education and we need to start earlier encouraging women and giving them an equal chance.
Would a world with greater gender parity look better? Well, given women spend more money on children and men spend more money on drink and enjoyment it would definitely do. Also a recent study by the World Bank showed a strong correlation between greater productivity and better gender parity. Let’s hope that in Davos next year there will be more than 20% female delegates, and more than 30% in next few years!