There has been a gradual increase in the number of women seated at the table when comparing boardrooms from today with those from just before the century. Women have had to put in a lot of effort and be persistent in their pursuit of a job, whether through invitation or on their own initiative.
According to the January 2022 S&P 500 list, women currently hold 32 (6.4%) of the CEO positions at those companies. Worldwide in 2020, women held just 20% of board director seats, and despite representing half of the world’s total population, only 40% of the global workforce is female.
According to the International Labour Organisation, the current global workforce participation rate for women is just under 47% compared to that of men at 72%. Despite the conspicuous 25% difference, some countries have an even wider gap of over 50%.
These statistics clearly show a lack of female representation both in decision-making as well as in formal employment. Also, for many women, their careers do not go in a straight line as they may have to balance family commitments such as raising children.
In Africa where women are over-represented in industries that were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – such as retail and hospitality – unemployment of women was exacerbated. According to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2021 report: 90% of women who lost their jobs during the pandemic did not return to work and 80% of women-owned businesses with credit needs are either unserved or underserved.
Other research showed that only 2.5% of venture capital funding across Africa went to women founded or co-founded startups. It is clear that access to funding is one of the biggest barriers for women who want to either start or scale up their business. Capital raising for business owners can be achieved through seeking expert and experienced advisors in international finance centres (IFCs), such as Jersey, a politically and economically stable jurisdiction which offers the right environment to act as an investment gateway for African investors to the UK, European and global markets. Last year, for example, South African fund assets in Jersey rose by 38%, highlighting Jersey’s appeal.
As an IFC, Jersey plays a critical role as a facilitator of economic activity globally by pooling capital that is subsequently redistributed worldwide – translating to employment opportunities and wage payments for individuals. According to the Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr) between 2017 and 2020, Jersey supported £6 billion of Africa’s gross domestic product.
Thinking of the challenges faced specifically by women, an interesting anomaly is Sub-Saharan Africa; the only region in the world where women entrepreneurs outnumber men. In addition, the region has almost four times more women entrepreneurs than those in Europe.