Anna Sofat: The Rise of Women’s Wealth
The rise of women’s wealth
Becoming the breadwinner
There have been huge changes in women’s lives in recent decades and we’ve become an economic force to be reckoned with. In the UK we’re setting up and running successful businesses at an astonishing rate1, more women are moving up the corporate ladder and becoming business leaders or we’re choosing the flexibility of self-employment as a route to our financial independence.
The number of us taking the lead as the main earner in our households has more than doubled in the last ten years2. We’ve come such a long way and it’s a trend that’s going to continue3. Of course our new wealth comes with challenges, but as we take our rightful places at the table, we have an exciting opportunity to change the culture of wealth and shape a fairer more balanced future for the next generation.
Many men and women we know and love will testify that being the main earner can be a mixed blessing. The relationship with our new role and rising wealth is complicated. Some of us are finding the support we need to get the balance right – but for many women the demands, responsibilities and compromises are difficult to balance.
Even if we are happy to take the lead in providing for our family’s financial needs, we can feel conflicted about the choices we’re making. The ‘invisible labour’ of care and family demands can leave us simply too busy or exhausted to enjoy the journey we’re on. A Workplace Benefits report from Bank of America Merril Lynch published in Forbes magazine at the end of last year pointed out that women are much more susceptible to serious anxiety, stress, fear and guilt about meeting the financial needs and expectations of family and society4.
We want women to enjoy their success and lead happier, healthier, more balanced lives.
We know it’s possible and it’s why Janardan and I started Addidi and why Addidi prioritises women.
A new girl gang: changing the narrative
Women are competitive and that’s fine – we’ve needed to be to get this far. However, one just needs to go online or engage with the media to see what a hard time we’re giving each other. Motherhood, as it relates to our working lives and our attitudes to wealth, can be a particular flashpoint among women from diverse backgrounds.
Put simply, we’re having trouble reconciling our different roles and we’re in danger of losing our compassion, never mind our balance, as we struggle to deal with our own experience, bias and feelings. Giving as good as we get can only get us so far and it won’t change the status quo.
Respecting personal choices, regardless of our own circumstances and views will create a better climate for debate and more future-focused conversation. We can focus on what’s important to us, together, and change the narrative from conflict to cooperation, one conversation at a time.
Supporting and celebrating eachother’s achievements, as we navigate complex times, keeps morale high. Good examples and successful collaborations will only yield more.
Fairness: closing the earnings gap
It’s no wonder that women have been starting businesses as a route to securing independence, flexibility and a better work-life balance5, given the slow pace of change in the wider workplace. Exciting as it is to see women entrepreneurs succeeding, it certainly isn’t for everyone and it’s not enough to drive the broader change in working culture that we need to see.
While fair pay isn’t necessarily a gender issue – it is an important battle that we need to keep fighting. It’s about addressing the root cause of inequality that starts in the boardroom and ripples out to wider society. We’re all bored of reading headlines about the obscene and widening pay gap in FTSE 100 companies and beyond8.
How about some more headlines in 2019 about how much value diversity throughout an organisation adds and how much productivity and wellness are improved for all workers when the pay gap narrows6?
Employers must step up and support women to make change from within. There is an opportunity here for companies to really differentiate themselves in terms of talent development as well as attracting and retaining women. Meeting women’s diverse needs at all levels in an organization makes good business sense and raises the bar for everyone6,7.
We’d urge younger working women in particular to continue to scrutinise pay differential indicators as part of their assessment of whether or not a company or organisation is a good and suitable employer, or not.
Let’s make 2019 the year when we say enough is enough and ask female leaders and executives to take the lead in championing change. Publishing board room packages and salaries is one way of increasing transparency and offering to take pay cuts or adjustments in the boardroom – rather than asking for more – is a great way forward.
Bringing who we are to work
Communication, collaboration and cooperation are vitally important when there is so much conflict between and around us. Women bring unique and varied attributes to business and leadership and we can use our talents to create positive change in the workplace and beyond.
Bringing emotional intelligence, sensitivity and skills to work is really important. They influence our behaviours and the kinds of culture we create. If we are authentic, then others can be too. A climate of mutual respect, where individuals can say it as they see it, makes for a rewarding and authentic experience for everyone and the kind of balanced ecosystem in which we all thrive.
The more we share the stories of our experience, the easier this becomes. We can change the culture of wealth and improve the quality of our own lives as we strive for a better, fairer and more sustainable future for us all. We believe that’s worth fighting for.
Let’s not forget to enjoy the journey together.
References and sources
1. For female entrepreneurs, the UK leads the way: recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit found 26% of high net worth women surveyed in the UK are business owners, which is a higher share than women, or men, in any other surveyed region. Economist Intelligence Unit and Royal Bank of Canada Global Survey
2. Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, 2018
3. Kantar 2017 Winning over women report.
4. Workplace Benefits report, Bank of America Merril Lynch published in Forbes magazine, 2018
5. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2017 report (GEM 2017) launched July 2018.
6. Since 2011, investments into companies with no female directors on their board average £2.9m, whereas adding a single female board member corresponds with a typical increase of £500,000. Aston University research
7.Amanda Weinstein. Harvard Business Review. Jan. 31, 2018. “When More Women Join the Workforce, Wages Rise — Including for Men.” https://hbr.org/2018/01/when-more-women-join-the-workforce-wages-rise-including-for-men
8. Analysis by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre showing chief executives of FTSE 100 companies are paid an average of £898 per hour – 256 times what apprentices earn on the minimum wage. The Guardian, 3rd January 2019.