Gender Equal Investment Funds Conference 2023: Creating a Future Where Gender is Not a Barrier but a Catalyst for Success (video)
- Gender disparities persist in the equity space, with women-founded startups receiving a small fraction of venture capital investments.
- Factors contributing to these disparities include network exclusiveness, cultural beliefs, stereotypes, biased questioning during pitches, and structural differences.
- Increased representation of women in investment teams and inclusion of female investors are crucial for addressing disparities and promoting gender diversity.
- Promoting gender equality in Romania’s market and society is crucial for economic growth and addressing labour force challenges.
- Building an ecosystem that supports diversity in business is also essential for equal opportunities and better results.
- Embracing gender equity in finance brings opportunities as diverse teams tend to outperform homogeneous ones.
- Education, awareness, mentorship, and networking opportunities are vital for promoting gender equality and inspiring young girls in finance and entrepreneurship.
- Supporting women-led startups at early stages, setting governance criteria, and promoting role models can help overcome biases in the investment process.
- Gender disparities in the venture capital space require increased female representation and addressing cultural beliefs and stereotypes.
- Solutions include promoting equal care responsibilities, social infrastructure, mentoring, financial and entrepreneurial education, and public policy support.
- Encouraging women to stay in school, providing access to decent jobs, addressing the gender pay gap, building confidence and skills, and promoting women in power and politics are crucial.
- Collaboration, joint efforts, a multi-stakeholder approach, and inclusion of gender diversity criteria are important for achieving gender equality and economic growth.
The above are some of the conclusions of the first Gender Equal Investment Funds Conference held by the Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce (RDCC). The event, held at the Marmorosch Hotel in Bucharest, brought together industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers from Romania, Poland and Luxembourg to address the challenges women face in entrepreneurship and the role of investment funds in promoting gender equality. The event started with talks from Lara Tassan Zanin, Head of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group in Romania and Honorary member of RDCC and Laura Gimenez, Regional Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Romania. Andreea Vasile, journalist, content creator and communication specialist, moderated the conference.
“We must recognize that achieving gender equality in this field is not just a matter of fairness. It’s also a matter of economic sense and social progress”, said Laura Gimenez. Indeed, according to a study by McKinsey & Co, more women participating in the Romanian economy can translate into a GDP growth between 8 and 10 per cent in the next years, Lara Tassan Zanin highlighted in her talk.
Find below highlights from the opening speeches at RDCC’s Gender Equal Investment Funds Conference 2023 with insights into the causes of gender inequality in the field of finance and ways to overcome this.
Lara Tassan Zanin: The Romanian market has huge potential to create gender equality in finance and other sectors, but also some challenges. The limited skilled labour force is one of its biggest challenges but there is potential. On the one hand, you see that there are not enough people to hire, there is a demand. On the other hand, there are not enough women working or not enough women have access to finance, credit or seed financing for their startup ventures. They are an untapped market that can supply products, skills and services that meet the demand. Crucially, however, there is a lack of data on this situation. EIB has partnered with Vertical and has developed a public policy proposal to structure data collection in Romania to better understand gender equality and how it is evolving in the country. We are now pushing for this proposal to enter the Parliament and find champions and allies in the Parliament. The aim is to bring Romania to a comparable situation with other EU countries, at least in terms of the availability of data on gender equality, how we are monitoring this fluctuating issue and how we can be one step closer to solving it.
I think the main point is not to have only women in this space, the main point is to have diverse teams, diverse founders teams, and diverse business angels community to be able to recognize that diversity is a value, that it brings better performance and results, particularly in challenging times.
Laura Gimenez: Let’s acknowledge women’s challenges in the investment world. One of the key barriers is the lack of access to capital. Studies after studies have shown that women-led startups receive significantly less funding compared to those of male counterparts, despite demonstrating similar levels of competency and potential for success. This gender bias not only limits opportunities for women, it also stifles innovation and economic growth. When it comes to strategies for achieving gender diversity, we need to first foster an inclusive culture within all industries, not just the finance and investments. This involves creating a supportive environment where women feel valued and can thrive. Many leaders across various companies are actively promoting diversity and providing equal opportunities for career advancement. We need to acknowledge the good that is already being done to make a difference in this area of ED&I.
The Biden-Harris administration is also making a difference. In October 2021, the administration released the first-ever U.S. strategy on gender equity and equality, listing economic security as growth as its first strategic priority. At the Department of Commerce, one of the ways we advance this priority is through an initiative which promotes economic development for women called EmpowerHer. As of today, over 40 AmChams in Europe and Euro-Asia, along with 120 companies, have proudly signed the Declaration of Support of Women’s Economic Empowerment. These trailblazers have embraced the idea of diversity, equity, equality and inclusion in the EmpowerHer initiative, infusing their programs with transformation principles. AmCham Romania was one of the first signatories of this impactful and inspired initiative.
By embracing diversity and providing equal opportunities, we can unlock the full potential of women in finance, drive innovation, and contribute to economic growth. Let’s work together to create a future where gender is not a barrier but a catalyst for success.
For more in-depth insights, watch the full conference below:
The Gender Equal Investment Funds Conference 2023 marked a significant milestone for Romania, as it was the first event of its kind dedicated to investments and gender equality in the country. With an aim to foster inclusive economic growth and empower women entrepreneurs, the conference provided a platform for meaningful discussions, networking opportunities and knowledge-sharing panels.
The event saw a diverse range of speakers and panelists from various sectors, including legal, finance, entrepreneurship and gender equality advocacy: Laura Gimenez, Regional Senior Commercial Officer at the United States Embassy in Bucharest, Cristina Pérez Mahiques, Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of Spain, Lara Tassan Zanin, Head of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Romania, Salomé Gvetadze, Senior Research Officer at European Investment Fund, Mihnea Crăciun, Managing Director of Endeavor, Daniela Șerban, President & Co-Founder of the Romanian Investor Relations Association (ARIR), Ilinca Păun, Founder of Bravva Angels, Marion Hegarty, Ambassador of Women in Tech, Ana Bobircă, Chief Investment Officer of InnovX, Gabriela Assoum Predescu, Lawyer and General Counsel & Partner Axxess Capital Partners, Margareta Mucibabici, Senior Advisor at Public Affairs Solutions, Simona Gemeneanu, Co-Founder Morphosis Capital, Sergiu Rosca, Founding Partner at GapMinder Venture Partners and Aleksandra Mucha, Investment Associate Central & Eastern Europe, NESsT Poland.
Attendees included prominent investors, successful businesswomen, government officials and representatives from international organizations that received valuable insights and best practices on overcoming the challenges faced by women in business and discussed strategies to enhance gender equality in investment decision-making.
“When women succeed in business, they become role models and sources of inspiration for younger generations, challenging traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Investing in Romanian women entrepreneurs contributes to long-term sustainable development. Women are natural community builders and often prioritize social and environmental impact in their business endeavors. By supporting their ventures, we encourage responsible entrepreneurship that embraces sustainable practices, social responsibility, and ethical values. This approach can also attract international investments and partnerships that can further boost our economy.”
Lestat Monroe, RDCC Founder
The RDCC intends to build on the success of the Gender Equal Investment Funds Conference 2023 by continuing to promote gender equality and inclusive economic growth in Romania. The organization plans to collaborate with industry stakeholders, policymakers, and investors to implement the recommendations and strategies discussed during the event. By working together with partners and allies, the RDCC aims to create an enabling environment that empowers women entrepreneurs and encourages investment practices that support gender equality.
The conference was sponsored by ING Bank, Raiffeisen Bank, Dentons Romania, and MyEcoBox.ro.
About the Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce
Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce (RDCC) is a leading non-profit organization that promotes the principles of diversity and inclusion in the Romanian business community. The RDCC is a forum for activities that bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including women, LGBTQ+, Roma, disabled and other minority groups and communities and business leaders. Our vision is to create a business organisation that promotes professional development opportunities, community resources and networking events. The RDCC also offers a certification program useful to multinational businesses that wish to ensure the diversity of their business partners.