Our greatest limitations can rarely be traced to our abilities; we are limited by our vision. As the Japanese proverb so wisely says, “Vision without action is dreaming while we are awake. Action without vision is a nightmare.” We live in a society that still has not learned to acknowledge half of the population’s vision, this half being women.
The last few decades have consisted of women working to have a more far-reaching presence in the job market, managing to boost the economy and contribute to greater national competitiveness and well-being. If we observe Latin America, women’s participation in the job market increased from 35% in 1980 to 53% in 2007. Additionally, more and more women are visible in the political arena, as public figures, and as opinion leaders. These advances are laudable but tell only part of the story. There is still a lot to be done.
If we focus on leadership positions, public and private, we’ll see a majority of men. Regarding entrepreneurship, indicators are less encouraging. On average, women represent a mere 10% of administration boards and only 25% as business owners in companies hailing from OCDE countries. Only 3% of the 100 largest companies in Latin America have women in executive positions. This indicates that most companies operate under one vision, that of men.
When we aim to create a company or launch any project, we strive to form the best team possible, a team that can generate cutting-edge ideas and that understands the customer and the market better than anyone else. We want a successful team. But how can we create the best team without including women? It’s as if we chose to look through just one eye. We choose to overlook half of humanity. Not a very wise decision, wouldn’t you say? To reach sustainable and inclusive development, we need to incorporate the other vision, that of women.
If we want to obtain the best results as a society and as business executives, we must include the vision of women and men. Both are necessary and complement one another. There are great benefits when we do this. We must keep in mind that the business leaders of today and tomorrow are capable of developing innovation and creativity. These businesses are the ones that bank on diversity.
Teams characterized by diversity offer a broader perspective, allow for innovation, and find better solutions than teams strictly comprised of men. Real power lies in women and men working together. This competitive advantage will distinguish companies that have opted to recognize women’s potential from those who have not. Studies show that women’s presence in a company improves financial results. The Development Dimensions International consulting group in its annual report Global Leadership Forecast 2014–2015 published, among other interesting findings, that gender diversity has a positive impact on company financial performance. The research was based on more than 2,000 companies in 48 countries. It found that 20% of the companies with the best financial results had more women in leadership positions.
Women make up slightly more than half of the human population. Including them in the job market translates into boosting the economy. Opting for equality leads to a more just society. As entrepreneurs, the benefits do not only lie in equality; opting for women is also good business. To take advantage of these opportunities, we must broaden our vision.
Angélica Fuentes, Founder Equal Invest
Angélica Fuentes is a Latin American businesswoman and impact investor, who has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Mexico’s most influential women.
Ms. Fuentes was appointed CEO of Grupo Imperial in 1992 and quickly positioned the company as a top player in Northern Mexico’s energy sector. Under her leadership, Grupo Imperial’s annual growth rate increased from 5% in 1992 to 9.5% in 2005. Ms. Fuentes served as President of the Business Energy Network of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC) from 2002 to 2004, and as President of the Mexican Natural Gas Association from 1996 to 2000. From 2007 to 2015, she served as CEO of Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas. Under her leadership, the company became one of the top 100 corporations in Mexico.
Throughout her career, Ms. Fuentes has dedicated significant time and resources to NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that support the cause of women. She participated in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Programme, and led the Mexican Gender Parity Taskforce. She currently serves on Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership; is member of the Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council of UN Women; is a Global Advocate for the Girl Up Campaign, a United Nations Foundation program; co-chairs the PVBLIC LATAM regional platform; is member of the Latin American Program Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center; and is member of the Global Dignity’s International Council of Advisors.
Her work in this field has been recognized by numerous honors and awards. In 2015, UN Women gave her the Women’s Empowerment Principles CEO Leadership Award; she was the first female CEO to receive this award for championing gender equality in the private sector. In 2016, PVBLIC Foundation, Ismael Cala Foundation, and the United Nations gave her the award for Latin Woman Empowerment. In 2017, she received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from The Maestro Cares Foundation.
Gender equality, women empowerment and the eradication of poverty have always been a priority in all her endeavors. In 2014, she established the Angelica Fuentes Foundation. In 2016, she founded A Complete and The Imperative Fund. In 2017, she founded Equal Invest, The Beauty Station and A Complete Journey.