THE BLOG
01/03/2015 05:29 GMT | Updated 30/04/2015 06:59 BST

When It Comes to Capitalism and Women, Inclusivity Is More Than a Buzzword

"Inclusivity is more than a buzz word or a box to check; it is a recipe for success in the 21st century. Bringing different perspectives and life experiences into corporate offices, engineering labs, and venture funds is likely to bring fresh ideas and higher revenues. And in our increasingly multicultural country, in an increasingly interdependent world, building a more diverse talent pool can't just be a nice-to-do for business; it has to be a must-do."

- Hillary Clinton, Keynote Address at February 24, 2015 First Annual Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women

While capitalism has undoubtedly made our world a healthier, richer and freer place, the Great Recession has called into question capitalism's ability to provide all members of society equal opportunity for economic success. There is an increasing sense that big companies and conglomerates are prospering at the expense of the middle and lower classes.

To restore capitalism to its proper place as an engine of broadly shared prosperity, we must promote efforts to make it more equitable, more sustainable, and most importantly, more inclusive. Inclusive capitalism is a term for the movement to an ethically-motivated marketplace that provides ladders of economic opportunity for all members of our diverse society.

While great strides have been, and are continuing to be made, almost half of the United States workforce is deprived equal access to these ladders of economic opportunity. Women remain underrepresented and underpaid. As America grows increasingly technologically advanced and dependent, the gender inequality is particularly troubling in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) sectors. Women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs despite the fact that women's share of the college-educated workers has increased. In her remarks at the First Annual Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the glaring disparity between the numbers of men and women in executive positions in Silicon Valley - only 11% of Silicon Valley executives are women.

These statistics are important because U.S. businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers, who play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of our economy. The Department of Commerce recognizes that the STEM workforce "has an outsized impact on a nation's competitiveness, economic growth, and overall standard of living."

The inclusive capitalism movement realizes that gender equality in the STEM sectors, and in the workplace in general, is not just an ethical no-brainer, but makes good economic sense. Keeping women in the workplace and increasing their opportunities for education and advancement is essential to the maintenance of a healthy, prospering society. Inclusive capitalism promotes family-friendly policies such as workplace flexibility. These policies benefit companies by increasing the likelihood of retaining their female employees, which reduces the costs associated with high levels of turnover. Retaining women in the STEM sectors is particularly crucial to gender equality because women in STEM jobs earn 33% more than those in non-STEM jobs, and the gender pay gap is smaller in the STEM fields.

Inclusivity is indeed more than a buzz word or a box to check, particularly when it comes to capitalism and women. The admonition that "building a more diverse talent pool can't just be a nice-to-do for business; it has to be a must-do," rings particularly true as we celebrate International Women's Day. The diverse talent pool necessary for an economically stable society can only come to fruition if capitalism becomes more inclusive, and in particular, inclusive of one of its greatest assets - its women.