Could the global financial crisis have been averted if more women were in the leadership of banks and financial institutions around the world? Are women the key to finding solutions to the economic turmoil?
That is the suggestion of the World Economic Forum.
This morning on the BBC World Service I heard an interview with Saadia Zahidi, Head of Constituents at the World Economic Forum (WEF) and one of the authors of a new report about the gender gap that exists worldwide. WEF is meeting to brainstorm ways to get out of the global financial crisis. Zahidi explained that the WEF believes the world needs to examine the basic operating systems that drive our economies, markets and societies and aim for a fundamental “reboot” — and one of the vital elements to doing that is to put more women in senior leadership positions within governments and financial institutions.
I can’t find a link to the story from the BBC. But you can get some details about the report here.
The argument is sound and I agree with it. Clearly, the group of (mostly) old, (mostly) white, (mostly) men who got us into this mess should not be the only ones working to get us out of it. At the same time, I think there is a larger opportunity here than just looking to create balance between men and women. In the digital age, when we are all connected and the actions of one individual or institution can have an impact on us all — shouldn’t we be tapping into the community for help? Isn’t there a way to crowd-source a better solution to this, and other problems, that plague our society?
I am not suggesting that we put our financial future in the hands of anyone who has a screen name (can you imagine – the next Treasury Secretary or head of the IMF becoming known as ‘dollardude19′ or “m0neyhunny’?). But I do believe that tapping into the community for ideas and input could yield new, fresh thinking. Who knows, perhaps a world-changing idea for how to restore confidence in the markets, and financial security to consumers is out there, we just haven’t been looking in the right places?
Invite-only gatherings of economists and government insiders haven’t resulted in anything groundbreaking and even the best economists will admit they don’t have a perfect answer to the problems we are facing. Maybe there isn’t a perfect answer. Or maybe, we aren’t asking the right people to help. More women need to be a part of this discussion, for sure, but there is an even broader audience of ‘outsiders’ that we should be engaging also. And the web is one of those tools that might be able to reach them.