Mar 4, 20196 min read

Desperately Seeking Female Leaders.

Laurel Wolfe headshot

by Laurel Wolfe

Let’s get straight to the point, shall we? The world of e-commerce, payments, and fintech is dominated by men, especially when you get closer to the top. But research shows that diversity contributes to growth. That’s why we’ve chosen to feature more women as role models in a series of articles called “Behind the business”.

On Friday, it’s the International Women’s Day. At Klarna, we believe everyone should have the same opportunity to realise their potential, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or background. This week, we want to take the opportunity to put the spotlight on interesting and successful female entrepreneurs and business builders in e-commerce. We’re releasing a series of interviews which take you behind the scenes of a few female-run online businesses to discuss their entrepreneurial influence, mindset, insights and ideas.

There are many reasons we need more diverse influence in the business world. Here are just four of them:

1. Diversity serves society better. More than half of the population in the world is female. Who better understands what women want and need than… women? It’s so obvious, it’s strange that not everyone gets it. But you do, for sure.

2. Diversity contributes to growth. Studies have revealed the importance of diversity for business growth. One McKinsey study looked at 180 publicly traded companies in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. What did it find? Returns on equity were 53 percent higher, on average, for companies in the top quartile of executive board diversity, than for those in the bottom quartile.

Another study, titled The Credit Suisse Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management, analysed more than 3,000 companies across 40 sectors. It showed that companies with more than one woman on the board had returned a compound 3,7 percent higher stock market return a year since 2005.

In the US, the number of women-owned businesses that generate revenues of more than $1 million a year has increased by 46 percent over the past 11 years vs. 12 percent for businesses in general, according to a report from American Express.

3. Diversity solves problems faster. The more diverse knowledge and perspectives that are brought into new challenges, the faster they can be solved, according to research published in Harvard Business Review.

4. Diversity makes for better decisions. In a study that analysed around 600 business decisions, made by 200 teams, researchers clearly saw the power of diversity. All-male teams were shown to make better business decisions than individuals 58 percent of the time, while gender-diverse teams outperformed individuals 73 percent of the time.

If you are motivated – go for it!

What’s stopping you from becoming a founder of your very own company? Now, it’s easier than ever!

Since 1972, women have gone from owning 4.6 percent of all businesses to 40 percent in 2018, according to a report from American Express.

Start-up costs for businesses across the board have declined thanks to many things: the rise of cloud computing, mobile devices, powerful applications that make things easy… and you don’t even need to be a techy person to launch your dream. To start an online store, for example, you can use platforms like Shopify, Prestashop, Magento or WooCommerce.

Stop doubting yourself

In the UK edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study, men and women were asked about their attitudes towards entrepreneurship, they were very similar in a lot of ways:

  • About 28 percent of them, the women as well at the men, personally know someone who has started a business.
  • About 77 percent agree that being successful at starting a business gains you high-level status and respect in society.
  • Is starting a business a good career choice? 55 percent believe it is, equal for both men and women.

But then, there were some differences:

  • Only 33 percent of the women answered that they have the skills, knowledge and experience to start a business, compared to 49 percent of the men.
  • Among those who agree there are good start-up opportunities out there, 44 percent of the women say that fear of failure would prevent them from starting a business, compared to 36 percent of the men.

These fears and self-doubts don’t necessarily say anything about an individual’s real ability to create success. It may simply be that men tend to overvalue their true abilities, while women undervalue theirs.

Why the rise of women in e-commerce is vital for everybody’s growth

Entrepreneurship is key to job creation, economic growth and prosperity.

We can be our  own worst enemy sometimes. Does that sound familiar to you too? Maybe you haven’t been encouraged like many of your male friends have, maybe you doubt yourself more, maybe you are afraid to fail, maybe you feel family responsibilities more than your partner does, or maybe you don’t know where to start? Don’t let that self-doubt stop you from following your dream and realising your inner vision. You will figure things out along the way.

If you are dreaming about starting and running your own company in e-commerce, let yourself be inspired by the amazing women we are featuring in “Behind the business”!

Here are all the interviews:

Sabrina van der Donk: Building the Fashion Empire She Dreamed of Creating

DeoDoc: Empowering Women by Breaking the Intimate Care Taboo

Ailbhe Kean: Viral Success Turned the Gift to Her Sister into an E-Commerce Business

Pernilla Nyrensten: ”Men Can Be Successful Regardless of Personality – Women Should Too”

Lara Oyesanya – The Outstanding Business Woman of the Year 2018