Antrifragility is more than just resilience, the ability to recover from mistakes. It anticipates possible undesirable developments and creates business models that are crisis-proof and lucrative. Karen Wendt on the lack of a female factor in technology, blockchain and finance.
Jacky Lam wrote for Forbes in 2019: “Crypto currency and blockchain are becoming one of the world’s largest disruptive technologies.” As expected, the sector has seen tremendous start-up growth and investor interest. However, as we continue to see success in fundraising and application growth in blockchain technology, there is also a worrying trend: women are not on the scene. We see the same trend in STO’s and digital assets.
Where is the female factor in the blockchain?
Every study shows that women are underrepresented in management positions in banking, technology, blockchain and fintech. So where is the female factor in the blockchain? Lukso, a blockchain created by two veterans of the Ethereum movement, tries to bring women into the group. At the same time they hope to change the way digital start-ups raise money. Is Lukso the exception to the rule? Or do we see the same old paradigm, entrepreneurs who ask for women’s participation but don’t live it?
In 2017, companies founded by women received only 2.2% of total venture capital (VC) funding in the US. According to the Pitchbook, it was even less in Europe, 1.9%. According to TechCrunch, this level continued the following year and has not changed significantly to date. Further data compiled by Pitchbook shows that the vast majority of VC investments in the UK are made up exclusively of male teams. In fact, in 2017 female teams accounted for only 4% of deals, and mixed-gender teams accounted for only 12%.
Researcher Zarya showed in 2018 that the average business size of a women-owned company in 2017 was just over $5 million. For a male-managed company, this figure is around 12 million US dollars. Figures that should come as a surprise, considering that we are looking at data from western countries in the 21st century. After decades of the gender equality movement, and even if men are outspoken advocates of an equal society, these results tell a different story.
Even fewer women attend Crypto Valley events than in investment banking
After working in investment banking for many years, it was really significant to see even fewer women at CryptoValley events than in investment banking.
Only 10% of women invest in blockchain. Ladies, if you do not invest in blockchain, you will be left behind! So pure female responsibility? No, because the problem goes deeper than that, as recent figures show. The lack of women in blockchain, Crypto Assets, Fintech, Finance 2.0 and Open Banking is striking. The good news is that the block chain technology is open source and growing, which usually creates a strong demand for highly qualified employees. This suggests that women could find a way into the crypto-currency and blockchain network. So why is this not happening in this growth market?
Gender differences are not new, but women with a growth philosophy are able to acquire the necessary skills. The female factor is the key to a balanced business model. Especially in a crisis, it is important that the management takes in as many perspectives as possible in order to develop a resilient position, to overcome the crisis and even to become anti-fragile.
Antifragility is a concept developed by Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the “Black Swan”. He defines antifragility as the ability to resist failure and turn stress factors such as volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUKA) into opportunities, thus not only withstanding mistakes or failures, but using them to grow. This means recognizing black, red and green or differently colored swans – events before they happen.
Antrifragility is more than just resilience, the ability to recover from mistakes. It anticipates possible mistakes and creates business models that are crisis-proof and lucrative. Diversity is extremely useful in environments that can no longer be described by systemic risk and volatility alone.
Antifragility is a core task of blockchain technology
Today’s business environment, especially after Corona, is best described by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Uncertainty is different from risk. The latter can be captured by scenarios, probabilities and mathematical models. Uncertainty, however, makes the forecast much more complex, ambiguous and less precise, and can lead to scenarios that nobody thought of. The existing assumptions and models do not provide useful forecasts.
One way to ward off this business fragility is to make it antifragile. Anti-fragile should therefore be at the heart of the VUCA economy so that businesses can thrive. Antifragility is also a core task of blockchain technology. We are moving away from the old system with institutionalized trust towards open source, decentralization and technology-based trust. Often fuzzy business models are based on ecosystem approaches. Why are women essential for antifragility? A recent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that women generate more revenue with fewer resources. Other studies show that women are good at systems thinking. They constantly analyse the leverage points and have a philosophy of growth. Women acquire and use these skills to feed their families.
Born in the absence of female participation
Due to the observed lack of female participation, SwissFinTechLadies was born. The idea is to create a female ecosystem that makes successful women visible. SFTL educates, initiates and innovates to inspire women to enter the industry, and facilitates collaboration in the areas of finance, blockchain and fintech. Since women, compared to men, have only recently entered the business and investment phase, the heads are full of male examples of successful entrepreneurs and investors: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and George Soros.
Of course there are very successful female investors – but how many people have really ever heard of Abigail Johnson or Deborah A. Farrington? This lack of female figures, which comes to mind among successful investors and entrepreneurs, not only affects investment decisions. It also influences career decisions. Unfortunately, women in the investment community are still circumscribed by different attributes than men and are perceived by men and women as less competent. Female companies, however, thrive and, according to the latest research, achieve more turnover with fewer resources. I’m sorry, guys! But women had to learn to make the most of their resources.
Women have been the sherpas of sustainability in recent years
Last but not least we take a look at the Green Swan in front of us. The term was coined by the Bank for International Settlements in Basel. It admits that the integration of climate-related risks is essential for monitoring financial stability because of the radical uncertainty in the financial system and that all existing backward-looking mechanisms will not work. Women have been the sherpas for sustainability for the last 10 years and could now move into senior positions here.
But women must also do their homework. Increase their investment in cryptoassets and increase their personal visibility. Both are the main concerns of the SwissFinTechLadies. We are an integrative network that invites men to create and work together with us. Become an ambassador and support the female factor in the Blockchain. We at SwissFinTechLadies believe that we are stronger together. Let us take responsibility together for an anti-fragile future.
*Originally published in German at CVJ