Women Are Not Just Influencing The Market – They Are The Market
Author, speaker and C-Suite consultant, Arif Anis is an international human capital expert who has the privilege of coaching top corporate leaders, heads of states, movie stars and CEOs from Fortune 500 along with a few of the most powerful men and women from 'The Time's and Forbes' list of Most Influential People in The World. Arif has extensive linkages with global leaders, multilateral organisations, institutions of higher learning in the fields of policy-making and opinion formation, peace building, lobbying and impact generation. As director of a UK based think-tank, he contributed to global peace initiatives including peace building between India and Pakistan and participated towards building the Olympic Truce legacy in follow up of London Olympics 2012.
What is your mission and the projects you are running to achieve them?
My mission is living with purpose and while enabling and empowering the people around me to be the best one can be! One’s mission is not always easy to find or pursue. When you find something, anything you’re passionate about, and you make it your life’s mission, you will find great joy and rewards in the work you do. Otherwise, it is not living but merely surviving.
Why and how did you find your passion for empowering women in business?
I consider myself lucky for having opportunities to meet a few of the strongest women in leading roles. Be it Hillary Clinton, Malal Yousaf Zai, Angelina Jolie, Prime Minister Theresa May, or Naomi Campbell – I coudl always see a trajectory when a woman makes it big.
I am of Pakistani origin and I met some incredible women along the way there. Pakistan, in reality, is an amazing place beyond the stereotpical media portrayal. It is a land of strong, independent women who have made a difference for themselves and their families. My mother is a very strong woman and she hugely impacted the family. My wife, who is a professional consultant on a break, is making a huge difference inher own way.
Contrary to males, what I have observed, is that one successful female can turn around the whole family. Entrepreneurialism does bring freedom, choice, independence, and the power to pursue one’s dreams. For that matter, I want to see more females in business and to succeed. I am particularly impressed with women’s focus as they are not distracted like men. There are so many amazing success strories around us where one focused and determined woman
How do you think that we can get the best out of women in business?
The entrepreneur’s life is celebrated for the grit and fortitude required to navigate it successfully, yet the lifestyle seems a more common choice as people increasingly freelance, run their own businesses, or work as consultants today.Women entrepreneurs see the world through a different lens and, in turn, do things differently. This is reflected in the kinds of businesses they start, whether it’s Coco Chanel, who learned the trade of a seamstress as a child, Estée Lauder, who turned a passion for skincare and make-up into a beauty empire, or Oprah Winfrey, whose media business focuses on helping women to reach their potential.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are 126million women operating new businesses and another 98million at the helm of established ones. Yet we face a huge equality gap. In only seven countries – Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico and Uganda, do women take part in business at rates equal to men’s; in some countries, they barely take part at all. Even when women are active business owners, they do not reach their potential: Women own almost three in ten American firms, yet employ only 6% of the country’s workforce and account for barely 4% of business revenues.
To get the best out of women, first comes access to capital. When it comes to finance, women face particular hurdles, from a lack of collateral to discriminatory regulations and ingrained gender bias. Small loans can make a big difference.Secondly, nascent businesses need support to flourish. Mentoring could make a huge difference and most women don’t have that support, which helps explain why around the world they see fewer opportunities for entrepreneurship than men.
Thirdly, women need entrepreneurial education. Winning business concepts are just as likely to be conceived at the kitchen table as in the garage or at business school, but research shows women doubt their capabilities and fear failure more than men. Training can equip women with the confidence to see bold ideas through. Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Women programme, for example, provides women with business and management education. Eight out of ten of the programme’s graduates have boosted revenues; nine out of ten have paid it forward by mentoring other women.And women entrepreneurial networks – they can make a huge difference for women.
Where is your project with women going to be in the next 5 years?
I am currently working on launching a Soft Skills University for women. Well, men or women the importance of soft-skills cannot be understated. However, for particular reasons, I find women making the most of the soft skills and rising to the top. I think it can inspire and change many lives.
What is happening on a global scale with women in business and what does the future hold for us, you think?
Interestingly, since the dawn of human kind the business landscape was a man’s world. Times are changing! Today, women are wielding more and more power on both sides of the business transaction. First, let’s look at some facts from the consumer side. The latest researches show that in family purchases that involve two adults (a woman and a man) women make:
94% of the purchase decision on home furnishings
92% of the purchase decision on family vacations
91% of the purchase decision on home purchases
80% of the purchase decision on healthcare
60% of the purchase decision on family cars
51% of the purchase decision on consumer electronics
It’s clear that in many cases, women are not just influencing the market; they are the market.
So I see more women CEOs breaking the glass ceiling and taking the current percentage of 11% to 50% or higher; more women presidents and prime ministers and more women in power as the time of Power Puff Girls has come. Even the rise of Trump in the USA can’t slow it down. Future belongs to determined women.