Persistent aims to have at least 30% of women senior leadership in our portfolio companies because this is when the benefits from gender diversity usually begin to accrue. Globally, only one in five startups has a woman founder, and only 2.8% of Fortune Global 500 CEOs are women.
Why Female Leadership is Different
As a daughter of immigrants, Shazia Khan visited Asia regularly throughout her childhood and witnessed poverty so shocking that it left an indelible imprint. From an international development perspective, poverty is the result of a complex set of factors. Access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunities have one underlying thing in common: energy. Solving the energy problem means that a significant portion of the global population will be able to contribute to the reservoir of human knowledge, instead of focusing on meeting basic needs.
For the past decade, Shazia has focused focused on one thing: building EcoEnergy, a company in a difficult market with steady revenue and sustainable year over year growth. But that’s not what keeps her going. She is interested in creating something transformative that will be her legacy to her children and to the world.
Being a female founder comes with a unique set of challenges, but it’s also endowed her with a unique perspective. Emotional intelligence, compassion, resourcefulness and longterm thinking are not the exclusive purview of female leaders, but these traits are disproportionately shared by most. They’ve enabled Shazia to build a company that values employees and customers, along with shareholders. It means creating a place to work that provides opportunities for growth and continually figures out ways to create true value for customers. EcoEnergy is not too proud to invest in relationships with stakeholders or to collaborate with competitors. Female leadership is different because we are not here to win, we are here to transform.