Women in Business: How Digital Fluency is Closing the Gender Gap
Women entrepreneurs are embracing the power of digital
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
A 2016 Accenture study titled “Getting to Equal: How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work” reveals that digital fluency, or using digital tools in the workplace, plays a significant role in bridging the gender gap.
“Our Digital Fluency Model shows that nations with higher rates of digital fluency among women have higher rates of gender equality in the workplace,” states the research, noting that countries with low levels of digital fluency like Indonesia and India are hindering the progress of women, citing that access to the Internet must be improved. Among Asian countries, the largest gaps between the digital fluency of men and women appear to be in Japan and Singapore, further suggesting that increasing women’s digital fluency to the level of men’s will help drive equality in the workplace.
“If governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become digitally fluent, we could reach gender equality in the workplace by 2040 in developed countries and by 2060 in developing countries,” according to the research.
Today, an increasing number of women entrepreneurs are embracing the power of digital to grow their businesses and help close the gender gap.
Singapore-based Lynly Fong, director of sportswear company Spirit Sports attests to this. “Our skill in using an online accounting platform like Xero has allowed us to receive real-time updates on the company’s accounts instead of them only being available at the end of the month, which has had a real impact on business decisions,” shares Fong, adding that in her industry, retail, digital fluency is critical to their business success as they move to omni-channel retail. She also advises that more businesswomen should be proactive in discovering, learning, and using related digital tools to advance their entrepreneurial journeys.
There have been major movements in the space in 2016, when Facebook began operating #SheMeansBusiness in Asia Pacific, a program that brings entrepreneurial women together, giving them access to training and resources geared to digital fluency that helps in scaling businesses. Clair Deevy, head of Community Affairs, Facebook APAC, informs that #SheMeansBusiness has launched in 17 countries, training more than 42,000 women entrepreneurs.
Hema Balakrishnan, a jewelry entrepreneur in India and founder of Color D Earth, shares that digital fluency is a solution to barriers artisans like her face everyday, including access to market and payment methods, among others. “I needed to tell more people our story and that’s when I discovered Facebook — it was the easiest way to reach out to people across the world to tell them our story. It has helped us grow our customer base, and today we have helped create an impact on over 200 Terraccota artisans across the country,” she says.
Digital fluency alone, however, can’t solve all issues of gender gap in the workplace. Longstanding culture, traditions, and policies in different countries should also be taken into account. The road to gender equality in the workplace may be a long way to go, but it’s important that there’s movement to make a difference, such that we may realize Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s vision of a future where “there won’t be women leaders. Just leaders.”