LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 LATIN AMERICA, BOGOTA: Panellists at the launch of the GSMA’s Women4Tech programme in Latin America said women should be encouraged to join the tech sector because it can benefit companies in many ways.
Ana Maria Blanco, industry purpose strategist at the GSMA, said the initiative was aligned with the mobile industry’s intention to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but, on top of this, being inclusive, retaining female talent and having employees who bring a different perspective to the table can only help companies.
Bibiana Aido, permanent representative in Ecuador for UN Women, said Latin America went through two decades of “mass incorporation” of women in the work force, resulting in more females in sectors including science and politics. But unemployment rates are still higher than for men, and a wage gap still exists.
This harms society and the economy, and should be a concern for men and companies as well, because it directly impacts on efficiency and profitability, along with the GDP of nations.
Aido said outside of the workplace, couples need to share responsibilities including parenting at home, to give women a fair chance to flourish in their chosen careers.
Leslie Jarrin, MD of ThoughtWorks in Ecuador, said not having diversity in the workplace limits a company’s exposure to new ideas and deprives it of insight into consumers who form 50 per cent of the population.
Meanwhile Rachel Samren, chief external affairs officer at Millicom, said just hiring more women isn’t enough. Retaining and supporting them by making “small, little fixes” such as flexible working hours and breastfeeding rooms will go a long way in helping maintain a work-life balance, which is something men, too, must aspire towards.
She said another way the operator is helping women is with its mobile money services, which gives them independence to, for instance, build businesses or save money on their own terms.