Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the year 2020 has been one of the most unpredictable periods in business and governance. It was also the year when it became evident that power, just like wealth, could become a transformative tool to effect positive change.
One area where this swift change in power is apparent is among the women of influence on the world stage. For centuries, women have been discriminated against and not given equal opportunity to amass power. But in recent times, the tides have changed in favour of women. It is interesting to note that the pandemic’s impact on society’s social and economic cohesion has largely been managed, thanks to outstanding leadership by many notable women leaders across the globe.
The most influential women worldwide are continuously working hard to ensure that their various areas of responsibilities continue to thrive during and after the pandemic. They are doing this by wielding all the political and economic power at their disposal to address society’s most pressing needs.
The pandemic has also necessitated a change in outdated power structures and systems that society has adopted for years. For females to continue assuming leadership positions and long-lasting progress, there is a need for equitable distribution of opportunities as the world makes its recovery efforts.
Women Leaders on the Rise
There is no question that one of this year’s most historical events has been the election of Kamala Harris as the Vice President of the United States of America, the first woman ever to be elected into this office. She went through a rigorous process to become the first woman to win the vice-presidential ticket and the first African-American to become the president’s running mate. She was also in charge of the second-largest justice department in the United States, where she perfumed beyond reproach.
Women have also infiltrated and achieved incredible feats in other male-dominated areas in 2020. Jane Fraser rose to one of the most admirable positions at Wall Street, and she’s now gearing up to become head of Citi in February.
A seasoned CEO, Jane Fraser has spent the last seven years providing exemplary leadership, first as CEO of the U.S. Consumer and Commercial Banking and CitiMortgage and more recently as CEO of Citigroup Latin America before taking over the reins as CEO of Global Consumer Banking in 2019.
During her tenure in Latin America, Citi underwent a significant restructuring of operations and substantial investment in technology and digital capabilities was made in Mexico. Citi in more recent times has undertaken significant steps to transform its products and services, in the process building a digital ecosystem which fosters collaboration with companies such as Zelle and Google in the US. In her current remit, she is responsible for retail banking and wealth management, credit cards, mortgage and operations and technology in 19 markets.
Just recently, Jane Fraser was adjudged CEO of the Year at the Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2020, hosted by The Digital Banker.
Amongst a plethora of criteria, Jane’s shortlisting was mainly attributed to her impressive service and leadership, under which Citi has undergone an impressive digital and physical transformation, synonymous with highly competitive customer satisfaction rankings. The Digital Banker’s panel of judges also takes into consideration the consumer bank’s overall financial performance, growth, digital journey and other key attributes.
Equally notable is Christine Lagarde who, in November 2019, became the first female head of the European Central Bank. The bank controls the single currency and monetary policies of the 19-member nations of the Eurozone. In the past, Christine Lagarde was also the head of the International Monetary Fund, an organization consisting of 190 countries, which ensures the stability of the international monetary system.
As the global crisis hits an unprecedented scale, women leaders continue to rise above the challenge and stare down the enemy from the frontlines. Karen Lynch became the C.E.O. of Global Healthcare giant CVS. She is now the first woman to run the biggest S&P 500 company. Meanwhile, Emma Walmsley is leading one of the most extensive Covid vaccination efforts as head of GSK. Using her leadership role at UPS, Carol Tome is also spearheading the safe delivery of billions of doses of vaccine.
The pandemic has also necessitated a change in outdated power structures and systems that society has adopted for years.
Women Leaders in Political Stage
While political leaders worldwide struggle to revive their nation and economies from the effects of the pandemic, female leaders are showing results worthy of applause.
Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland and the world’s youngest head of government has devised tough measures to curtail the spread of the virus in Finland. In New Zealand, Jacinda Arden was swift in ordering a lockdown that stunted the virus’s spread both in the first and second waves. The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, also implemented the most effective pandemic response in the world ever since the coronavirus pandemic started.
In Germany, Angela Merkel led a science and wellness-focused pandemic control effort that favours her country’s citizens, not minding the cost.
Despite the challenges of populism in Europe, Markel took charge of the liberal West and exerted her influence against the AfD in Germany. She has shown outstanding leadership in managing the pandemic and has pioneered the establishment of the E.U. recovery fund.
Thus far, these women’s efforts will, for a long time, serve as a template for leadership across the world, especially during times of crisis. Furthermore, these leaders have demonstrated that gender balance will benefit the world a great deal.