A tribute to women and their empowerment

Women have emerged as leaders in business, representing various sectors of the New Zealand economy. As well as being Directors on boards of small, medium and large companies, they occupy positions of importance in national and multinational companies. Over the years, many of them have won citations and awards given by banks, companies and other organisations.

The economic empowerment of women across the rich world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years. It is remarkable because of the extent of the change: millions of people who were once dependent on men have taken control of their own economic fates. It is remarkable also because it has produced so little friction: a change that affects the most intimate aspects of people’s identities has been widely welcomed by men as well as women. Dramatic social change seldom takes such a benign form.

Woking at Home

Home-working is increasingly fashionable in New Zealand.

More than 90% of companies in Germany and Sweden allow flexible working. A growing number of firms are learning to divide the working week in new ways—judging staff on annual rather than weekly hours, allowing them to work nine days a fortnight, letting them come in early or late and allowing husbands and wives to share jobs.

Almost half of Sun Microsystems’s employees work at home or from nearby satellite offices. Raytheon, a maker of missile systems, allows workers every other Friday off to take care of family business, if they make up the hours on other days.

Companies are even rethinking the structure of careers, as people live and work longer. Barclays is one of many firms that allow five years’ unpaid leave.

Some companies offer a six-month paid sabbatical to people who have been in the company for 25 years. Companies are allowing people to phase their retirement. Child-bearing years will thus make up a smaller proportion of women’s potential working lives. Spells out of the labour force will become less a mark of female exceptionalism.

Women Entrepreneurs

Faster change is likely as women exploit their economic power. Many talented women are already hopping off the corporate treadmill to form companies that better meet their needs. In the past decade, the number of privately owned companies started by women in America has increased twice as fast as the number owned by men.

Women-owned companies employ more people than the largest 500 companies combined. Eden McCallum and Axiom Legal have applied a network model to their respective fields of management consultancy and legal services: network members work when it suits them and the companies use their scale to make sure that clients have their problems dealt with immediately.

Despite their proven experience in management and corporate leadership, the role of women in governance is still not properly recognised and rewarded an expert has said.

According to Launa Inman, Director, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and former Chief Executive of Australian retail giant ‘Billabong’ and Managing Director of ‘Target,’ while many women are in leadership teams of companies, very few of them are promoted to the post of Managing Director or Chief Executive.

“Women have proved time and again that they can be good leaders and meet challenges, cope with stress and promote good corporate governance. Almost all of them have taken tough decisions that have benefited their respective countries and communities,” she said, citing former British, Israeli Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, and Golda Meir as examples of high profile leaders.

Indian Newslink is proud to publish this ‘Women in Business’ feature as a tribute to our women and their rising importance in the government and the corporate world.

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