An Asset More Profitable Than Oil… #TEDtalk

Before introducing a really good TEDtalk; Did you know that Norway has made billions based on women’s participation in the labor market? Without the increase in female workers, Norway’s onshore GDP would have been 3.300 BNOK lower than it is today.

The average onshore GDP growth in our country has been around 2% annually, and around 10% of this is due to increased use of labor force. This growth primarily comes from female workers.

In other words, assets similar to the entire Norwegian Oil Fund would have been lost if Norwegian women’s labor participation was as low as in the OECD average. Recent research conducted in Norway also shows that if women worked as much as men during the past 40 years, this would have added a 2.300BNOK profit to the economy. To wrap it up; women is good business!

The world finally starts realizing that investing in women is profitable. Japan and South Korea are both at the bottom of the OECD gender equality index. And sharing some key similarities beyond geographical region; masculine cultures, negative financial development and low birth rates. Both needs to boost their economies, and look to Norway & the Nordics for inspiration on how to grow their BNP through increased inclusion of women in the workforce.

A few years ago, I shared my thoughts on innovation & leadership at the Global Woman Leaders Forum in Busan, South Korea. Leaders from across North East Asia were gathered, and I was quite surprised to realize how much focus they had on Scandinavia experiences/models, and the amount of inspiration this region found in what we’ve done in the Nordic/Scandinavian countries.

Being born during the past decades, as a woman in a developed country, is like winning a global lottery. We have access to education & opportunities our female ancestors couldn’t dream of, and hold the opportunity of choosing our own spouse – or to remain single and independent. We can change the future of our children, and of our societies. But still, there is a long way to go.

My hope for the future is that this opportunity and freedom applies for all women across the world in the future. Without thinking that my own culture is better than other cultures, it’s clear that many countries haven’t yet succeeded in achieving & realizing the potentials brought by equal opportunities. Cultural change takes time, and we need inspiration and proof representing success stories.

Hence, I think that a lot of the Nordic models and experiences on gender equality and workforce robustness can be adjusted to fit other cultures, mixed with new thoughts from across regions and serve as great inspiration for other countries (in completely different parts of the world) who wants & needs to innovate and succeed with a bigger employment rate within their societies.

And as leaders of an increasing number of countries work hard to utilize this potential, I wonder how shipping corporations can adapt the same understanding, linking gender inclusion, best practice sharing and economical growth.

Who will be the diversity champions, demonstrating increased productivity, competitiveness and bottom line results? Which male leaders will contribute in driving this change? When will it be mainstream to realize that investing in women is a good business case? If you still doubt me I would advise you all to check out an excellent diversity front runner – AliBaba! Founder Jack Ma claims female executives are his secret sauce to success.. (China is by the way doing a lot of interesting things in general when it comes to succeeding with diversity, spearheading Asia on this issue…)

With this backdrop I recommend spending some minutes watching this excellent TEDtalk by Norwegian politician Hadia Tajik.

Introduction: “Can you put a price tag on oil? Of course you can. But can you put a price tag on women? Hadia Tajik asks the important question, what is the female workforce worth to the society.”

Norway’s youngest Minister ever shares valuable insights on why and how society can capitalize on 50% of its talents. A thought-provoking TEDx talk for shipping leaders.

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