If gender equality was achieved in the world of business, it would reportedly boost the global GDP by around $28 trillion. This is just one of the many reasons Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson thinks female entrepreneurs need more support.
In a post on his blog, Branson discusses the overwhelmingly positive effect of gender equality for business, comes up with some ways to break down the “entrenched hierarchies” where women are so frequently overlooked for high-level positions.
He says one solution is to empower women to start their own businesses right from the get-go.
“The word entrepreneur barely existed when I started out, but then quickly gained macho connotations – often associated with the powerful Monopoly man making megabucks,” Branson writes.
“Thankfully, as the business landscape has changed so too has our idea of what kind of people entrepreneurs are.”
Branson references a UK survey which shows 20% of single-person businesses are run by women, and that boosting female entrepreneurship could inject £60 billion ($A96.3 billion) into the UK economy, heralding “new jobs, new investment, and a new attitude”.
“There is so much to gain from supporting women to start up at the same rate as men,” Branson says.
Despite this boon, Branson says it’s a global issue, mentioning how “huge investments” don’t help entrepreneurial women in developing countries, instead calling for more micro-loans and education in these regions.
One program closer to home is trying to provide just that, with non-profit organisation Global Sisters providing business coaching and support networks for Australian women who face financial exclusion.
“One of our women we’ve been working with has a business focused on a traditional African ginger tonic called Auntie’s Ginger Tonic,” Global Sisters founder Mandy Richards told SmartCompany last year.
“Through our coaching program, she has specialised help for product development and another separate coach with a marketing focus. She’s about to work with another person on the finance and business side.”
Branson says women should be encouraged to do more than break the glass ceiling, instead, they should “build their own towers”.
“Women make up half the world, and so too should they the business world. When they do we will all happier and better off,” he says.
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“A more tolerant, diverse, and creative business landscape will better equip us to tackle future challenges.”