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The Growing She-conomy

Posted by Flux on 

15 February 2024

What’s trending?

According to PR Newswire, the female economy is poised to outpace the economy of some of the biggest nations in the next five years. In the US women’s pay growth outpaced men’s in 2022. In South Africa, a study by Lightstone Property has found that more single women own property than men in 2019. Nielsen predicts that by 2028, women will own 75% of the discretionary spend. This comes against a background of skewed income and employment. According to the United Nations, women in the United States are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men and, according to the World Economic Forum, South African women earn 70 cents to every rand. Simply put, the closing of the gender pay gap hasn’t seen much progress in the past two decades. In terms of labour force participation (defined as the number of persons in the labour force as a percentage of the working-age population), women record a figure globally of 61.4% compared to 90.6% for men, according to the International Labour Organization. Locally, according to Stats SA, in 2022, 47,0% of South African women are economically inactive compared to 35,6% of their male counterparts.

Why is it important? 

Experts are calling this growth in economic activity the She-conomy – a female-powered economy whereby women are pushing economic activity forward in two ways: as a workforce propelling better company performance and as consumers raising consumer spending. The drivers for this economy are women delaying marriage, choosing to stay single and getting divorced later in life. They are also delaying childbirth and having fewer children. Because women are earning more money today than they did in the past , they have become significant purchasers of cars, homes and consumer goods. According to Deloitte, a more diverse workforce with a balance of genders, brings different perspectives and ideas, which can enhance innovation, creativity, and problem-solving within organisations. Economic independence empowers women to make important life decisions, such as family planning, education, and career choices, and enables them to have a stronger voice in society. Countries with a highly skilled and economically active female workforce are more competitive on the global stage according to research done in the UK, as they  harness the talents and capabilities of a larger portion of their population.

What can businesses do about it?

Businesses should ensure that they have a gender diverse workforce. Addressing obstacles to advancement would help retain female employees and keep them on the path to leadership. This includes sufficient maternity leave, the provision of childcare and flexible work arrangements, Regarding the gender pay gap, salary transparency is a workplace trend that could mitigate this problem. It would curb the incidence of gender-based salary discrimination. Establish mentorship and sponsorship programmes to help women advance. Pair them with senior leaders who can advocate for their professional growth. Brands should consider catering to this market segment as women spending power is on an upward trajectory. Supporting female sport is a good example of this, as Clinique has done by appointing England rugby player Holly Aitchison as their ambassador. Create products or services that specifically address the unique needs and preferences of women, whether related to health, safety, or convenience. Provide platforms for women to share their stories, ideas, and experiences, whether through social media campaigns, blog features, or other content. Provide sponsorships, scholarships, or grants that support women in pursuing education, entrepreneurship, and career advancement.

By Faeeza Khan

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Image credit: Brett Jordan

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