It may not sound ‘historic,’ but the fact is that women are under-represented in the international trade industry. Statistics from Trade Victoria show women make up just 23 per cent of international trade delegates.
Equal participation in the economy matters
China is one of Victoria’s most important trading partners. Trade between Victoria and China brings $23 billion a year to the Victorian economy.
Trade missions are important. They connect business owners to overseas markets to sell their products.
That means that less than a quarter of business owners benefiting from trade with China are women. It also means that by not engaging half the population, Victoria’s trade industry isn’t performing as well as it could be.
And we know that when women have equal access to the economy, the whole community benefits.
Promoting women-owned businesses
That’s why the delegation focussed on promoting women-owned businesses to the Chinese market.
The 15 women in the delegation came from a range of industries across Victoria. Everything from financial services to agriculture was represented. Delegates were all founders, directors or senior leaders of their companies.
Delegates met with Chinese and Australian industry leaders and companies. They were given detailed information and advice on doing business with China and building the international profile of their companies.
Building international connections
Successful trade is all about connections. To get access to the right resources and information, delegates met with:
- the Australian Trade and Investment Commission ()
- AusCham, the peak body for Australian businesses in China
- the Landing Pad, a business incubator for Australian start-ups in China
- Ladies Who, a Chinese network promoting women in STEM
- Mentor Walks, a network connecting emerging women leaders with established professionals and executives.
A significant learning from the trip was the important role that women play in China’s business success. More women are now in senior leadership and board positions in Chinese companies. Chinese tech companies have more women leadership than those in the US or UK.
It’s time for Victorian trade to realise its full potential. Equal participation of women in trade is good for the economy. Gender equality in international business matters.
Reviewed 25 June 2018