Blueprint will help new female entrepreneurs make it to the top in the digital era
A major German software company and UN Women have launched a Chinese program to promote gender equality in the digital age.
The United Nations entity for gender empowerment and SAP SE rolled out the three-year initiative at the 2017 Women's Leadership Summit in Beijing earlier this month.
Simply entitled, "SHE CAN", the program is designed to improve the capabilities of female entrepreneurs when it comes to innovation in the digital era.
"It is a priority for UN Women to break down multiple barriers to women's access to economic opportunity and advance gender equality," said Julie Broussard, country program manager for the UN Women China Office.
The initiative aims to help female entrepreneurs master digital skills to increase their earning power.
This in turn will help them play a positive role in promoting gender equality, female empowerment and the status of women in China.
During the summit, there were numerous case histories of women from rural regions who had the talent to become entrepreneurs but lacked the backing and support.
By highlighting these issues, the program hopes to help them set up their own businesses, and take advantage of innovation and technology.
"We are in a digital revolution, where it is not about being physically strong," said Adaire Fox-Martin, executive board member of SAP SE, which has offices in 130 countries.
"Digital revolution is about the ability to adapt to change, empowering women and bringing diversity to the workforce," she added. "There has never been a better time if you are a woman with ambition to lead and to start your own company."
Fox-Martin explained that with the help of information technology, such as blockchain, the internet of things and cloud computing, traditional gender barriers can be broken down.
Moreover, this will help women balance their work-life environment, both in the office and at home.
Famous female entrepreneur Yang Lan has been a passionate advocate of gender parity.
The co-founder and chairperson of Sun Media Group and the Sun Culture Foundation pointed out that women have a crucial role to play in business.
"While some work is disappearing because of mechanization, women are becoming increasingly irreplaceable in the fields of caring, communication, psychology, medical treatment and education," she said.
"They offer chances for women to stand out from the crowd," Yang added.
Their sense of beauty, which is part of the aesthetic side of life, should also be tapped.
Liang Dong, founder of Z'an Healthcare and former vice-president of internet giant Baidu Inc, stressed that this was a value underappreciated by companies.
"In the past, the aesthetic sense, which women are better at, did not get much attention in workplaces (across China)," he said.
"When companies were focused on surviving, they would pursue efficiency or something related to masculinity instead," Liang added.
He felt that not until now had the "aesthetic sense" been factored into the core competitiveness of companies.
Naturally, this put female workers at a disadvantage.
"Besides, women also (have) mental (agility), which has become increasingly essential for enterprises' eco-development," Liang said.
Data have illustrated the benefits of SAP's emphasis on promoting gender equity across its organization.
Figures this year showed that 25 percent of the software company's global management team were women, according to Fox-Martin.
The numbers increased to more than 30 percent when it came to SAP's Greater China's senior management.
By 2022, SAP expects 30 percent of its global management team will be women.
(China Daily USA10/04/2017 page16)
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