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A strategic blueprint for investing in women: Accelerating progress through genuine empowerment

- March 8, 2024 3 MIN READ

 

This International Women’s Day, as we rally under the banner “Count Her In – Invest in Women, Accelerate Progress,” it’s time for a reflective pause and a strategic pivot. The call to action is clear, yet the path to genuine investment in women remains nuanced, writes Cassandra Kalpaxis, director of Kalpaxis Legal.

As a mother, a daughter, a business owner and a leader deeply entrenched in the ethos of empowerment and innovation, I’ve navigated the multifaceted landscape of supporting women in the workforce. This journey has allowed me to see the essence of true investment – it’s not just about opening doors but about changing the architecture of opportunity and support.

The mirage of networking as the panacea

Networking, while essential, is not the panacea for the myriad of challenges facing women in business today. It’s a surface-level solution to a deeply rooted issue. True investment transcends introductions, focusing instead on dismantling the systemic barriers that prevent women from accessing and utilising these networks to their full potential.


Elevating women into leadership: A non-negotiable

The leadership journey is fraught with systemic obstacles. With women holding a mere 32.5 per cent of key management positions in Australia as of 2020, the disparity is not just a leadership gap but a missed opportunity for innovation and growth. A genuine investment in women entails creating pathways for female leadership through mentorship, sponsorship, and reshaping corporate cultures to embrace and champion diversity at the helm.

Tackling the gender pay gap with precision

The persistent gender pay gap, standing at 13.4 per cent in Australia, is more than an economic issue; it’s a symbol of systemic undervaluation. Bridging this gap requires a granular approach, including regular audits, transparent compensation frameworks, and a commitment to equity that transcends performative measures. It’s about valuing women’s contributions equitably and creating an environment where their economic security is non-negotiable.


Cultivating female entrepreneurship: Beyond the basics

Supporting female entrepreneurs goes beyond encouragement; it demands tangible actions. Investing in women means providing access to capital, resources, and networks that are often gatekept from female founders. Angel investing, venture capital, and crowdfunding are avenues where emphasis on women-led initiatives can catalyse profound change, driving innovation and economic growth.

Empowerment and empathy based leadership:

The professional services industry, and many others, mirrors the broader societal challenges of gender bias and inequality. Women’s struggles in balancing professional demands with familial responsibilities underscore the need for systemic change. Investment in women must include flexible work arrangements, support for parental duties, and a concerted effort to close the financial literacy gap, ensuring women are equipped to navigate and excel in their chosen fields. It’s about showing compassion and understanding to women who have families so they feel empowered and supported, rather than made to feel guilty or worried about career impact if they choose to have a family.

Redefining the CEO role: An inclusive vision

The stark underrepresentation of women in CEO positions is a clarion call for introspection and action. Overcoming the barriers to women’s leadership at the highest levels requires a holistic approach, from addressing the financial and educational barriers to dismantling the cultural norms that sideline women’s ambitions. It’s about creating an ecosystem where women’s leadership thrives, reflecting the diversity and dynamism of our society.

Inclusive investment: A gateway to transformation

Investing in women must be inclusive, reaching those on the margins, including Indigenous women and survivors of domestic violence. This means creating opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, and economic independence, offering a lifeline to break the cycles of poverty and abuse. Access to supporting platforms that amplify women’s voices in finance and business is crucial, providing the tools and resources necessary for all women to succeed.

Overcoming governmental and cultural hurdles

The roadblocks to government investment in women stem from deeply ingrained gender biases and a lack of representation. To counter this, we need a concerted push towards gender-responsive budgeting, increased representation of women in decision-making roles, and targeted support for women-led initiatives. It’s about shifting the paradigm to recognise and value women’s unique contributions and potential.

A new dawn for women in business

The narrative that the business world is a male domain is outdated and counterproductive. Women entrepreneurs are not a niche but a powerhouse driving economic innovation and social change. By reimagining investment strategies to include and support women actively, we acknowledge their role as equal stakeholders in the business community.

As we embrace the ethos of this International Women’s Day, let’s commit to a strategic blueprint for investing in women. It’s a journey of transformation that requires not just intention but action. By investing in women genuinely and strategically, we pave the way.


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