Female Tribes is a living study, conducted by J. Walter Thompson, about women around the world. Women have become the largest consumer category in the world and Female Tribes helps to unlock the true economic impact women have on business.
Here’s what Rachel Pashley, Group Planning Head at J. Walter Thompson London, had to say about the new Tribes, female empowerment and Female Capital.
There’s never been a better time to be a woman, or so say 76% of women in our proprietary Women’s Index. We’re all familiar with the idea of women as consumers, with current estimates suggesting that women control up to two-thirds of the global consumer spend – but what we’re perhaps less familiar with is the idea of women as wealth creators in their own right: the fact that China is home to two-thirds of self-made female billionaires, or that women run eight out of the 10 leading banks in India – effectively placing the control of 40% of India’s assets in the hands of women.
All too often discussions about the struggle for gender parity tend to paint women as passive victims of discrimination, and whilst this is undoubtedly a cultural truth, focusing solely on this narrative can disempower women: and it’s deluded as to the power and influence women already wield in the world. We at J. Walter Thompson Company believe in a second truth: the idea of Female Capital, the value that women deliver to the world – as women. We believe that Female Capital will be transformational not just for brands and business but for the world at large. Let me explain.
The ‘Dow Jane Effect’ and the female economy
Evidence of the ignorance of Female Capital exists all around us. Research from Vanderbilt University examined attitudes to women as leaders, and concluded that women were perceived as assistants and support staff, but poor leadership material. In fact, the opposite is true. Women are the more efficient leaders – with efficiency peaking as they get older , perhaps explaining why a 2016 global study by the Peterson Institute concluded that companies with more women in leadership positions are more profitable.
So entrenched beliefs not only deny women a seat in the boardroom but can actually weaken the bottom line on the balance sheet. If you needed any more persuasion, consider that, on average, female-led hedge funds consistently out-perform those managed by their male peers 5. In 2009, in recognition of this ‘Dow Jane Effect’, Naissance Capital, a global investment company, introduced gender diversity screening for investment funds to prioritise those with women on the boards. Retailer Walmart, has started to actively promote female-owned businesses via a labelling system, recognising through their own studies that women are significantly more likely to purchase products made by women, citing quality as a key motivation. Women recognise and support the idea of Female Capital even if the corporate world has yet to catch on.
However, a quiet revolution is happening: a 2013 study published by Amex, revealed that in the US not only are women starting their own businesses at twice the rate of men, they are also growing big businesses. Women-owned businesses in the $10m+ category have growth rates outstripping their peers and display the fastest growth rates – well above average, perhaps contributing to the fact that 60% of all personal wealth in the US is held by women. Let me repeat… that’s 60%.