The Women’s Forum 2021, which aims to promote the role of women in the economy and society, was held in Paris this week. The topic of women’s place in the economy was widely discussed there, especially as the Covid health crisis has set the cause back.
And if women have been organizing and networking for a long time, they are still under-represented in the realm of finance and investment. However, the effort is high because the risk of seeing women being displaced from a part of tomorrow’s economic life seems very real.
Women are less present in entrepreneurship and scientific fields
It is not only within CAC 40 or SBF 120 that the proportion of women in corporate management is low. According to the Public Investment Bank, only 23% of women in 2018 are part of an entrepreneurial dynamic compared to 37% of men.
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The reasons are different. It cannot be ruled out that women in our cultural representations should rather strive for a stable job, and in this context, wage employment appears less risky than establishing or taking over a business. Moreover, when it comes to transferring family businesses, preference remains for sons, for many cultural as well as emotional reasons.
In the 21st century, the creation of added value will come from sectors that require significant technical, technological and scientific skills (one day was dedicated to this issue of STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics during the Women’s Forum). Under-represented in these training courses and professions, they risk, on the one hand, not taking advantage of these growth pockets and, in other words, not contributing their stones to building the world of the future.
The vicious circle of diversity and achievement no longer needs to be demonstrated
Women are well aware that advocates for greater inclusion of women in the economy, whether from an entrepreneurial or investor perspective, cannot be based on justice or morality alone.
There are countless studies that objectify the outperformance of companies whose management includes at least one woman. These initiatives have been consistent over the years and also concern start-ups (BCG survey in 2018). The latter, when founded or co-founded by women, generate 10% more revenue over a five-year period, despite their difficulty in obtaining funding.
Women and start-ups: I do not love you either
In start-ups like elsewhere, the place of women is changing, but so slowly. It’s hard to be more masculine than these young shoots who often (but not only) develop the technologies of the future. By 2020, only 4% of start-ups are created by 100% female founders, and only one in five start-ups includes a female or mixed team. The icing on the cake, the latter do not raise as much funds as their male counterparts, a mild understatement as 90% of the funding in 2020 was allocated to male teams. As for fundraising over 100 million euros, women and mixed teams disappear completely from the radar. In the world of start-ups, therefore, male directors would act as powerful black holes and swallow all the funding that comes within their reach.
Several reasons may explain this lack of love. Perhaps women would have less self-confidence, a taste for risk, would be more realistic or cautious in their presentations and ambitions? Perhaps they are concentrated in sectors traditionally associated with the ‘feminine’ (care, social), where the expectation of profitability seems lower, or is less known by investors? Or maybe the latter, mostly men, suffer from bias in their investment decisions? However, more than sixty investment funds have committed themselves, through the Sista Charter, to finance 25% of start-ups founded or co-founded by women by 2025, and 50% by 2050 … awareness is there and the trend is slowly changing . .
Female investors: The association is moving the lines
On the investment side, the association has been working on these topics for decades. Thus, for more than twenty years, Women Business Angels (FBA) have funded and supported start-ups in all areas in the long term and committed to their management. At FBA, 150 female investors are early shareholders in start-ups.
The financing takes place both directly or through investment companies such as ‘WinEquity’ established in 2021, whose investment policy goes beyond the requirements of the SISTA Charter. “The fund will only invest in start-ups with mixed or female teams. It is by adding a strong societal parameter, in line with our vision of society and our values, that we will make a difference,” the founders explain. Florence Richardson and Cecile Bassot.
And still with a view to building a fairer future, Winequity has launched a mentoring system for young investors focusing on young female investors under the age of thirty. The latter benefit from training, support and reduced admission ticket in order to create a good circle. Getting involved in start-up financing gives young girls the opportunity to learn about starting a business, taking risks and developing certain essential skills for the future.
Women’s share in the real economy must be far from satisfactory, but must remain a permanent point of attention for the various actors in the economy and the political world. This is all the more necessary as women remain more vulnerable in the event of a crisis and as the future looks set to bring glory to professions with a strong scientific and technological component where women are lacking. The work is carried out in the longer term through training and support in the field of young girls, especially in the establishment of companies, but also in the financing of these companies and by taking financial risks. So without blinking we can say: “you will be a business angel my daughter”.
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After more than 15 years of experience in the financial industry, high-frequency and intensity decision-making universe, Marine Balansard puts its know-how into the development of individual and collective decision-making intelligence in companies and organizations. Marine Balansard is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris, with a master’s degree in Capital Markets and Corporate Finance and works for the consulting and training company ARISEAL as CEO. Marine Balansard is the co-author of the book “Décider ça se travail” published by Eyrolles.