“We need to raise awareness for every woman out there” Image 1


“We need to raise awareness for every woman out there”

Dr. Mara Harvey, Head Global UHNW Germany, Austria, Italy of UBS Switzerland AG, talks about the Equality Lounge at the World Economic Forum, women as largest emerging market and pay gaps creating massive 
wealth gaps

tw: At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, we heard not only Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking about gender and women, but Jack Ma of Alibaba as well. Did this surprise you?
Dr. Mara Harvey:
I think yes. What we realized is that the topic just gained massively in importance. We’ve always seen gender balance and equality as a priority, but I think we have passed a tipping point. Organizations are realizing that the efforts made so far have not been enough. We need to accelerate this even further. My experience has also shown that Asia is probably one of the regions of the world which is far in advance compared to other parts of the world with regards to equality. It actually seems to be a no-brainer for many organizations there, precisely due to the diversity of their workforce. Same for us at UBS, in Asia over 45 percent of our workforce is already female and is very nicely distributed across all seniority levels. We can’t say this for the rest of the business across the rest of world.

UBS Unique partnered with The Female Quotient (TFQ) at this year’s World Economic Forum. Please tell us a bit more.
The Female Quotient is an organization driven by Shelley Zalis. She has indeed been working for many years to try to get corporates to put a broader spotlight on what they are doing to further equality. She has been working with CEOs of important companies and senior management on all levels of organizations, but also with conferences to make more women visible as speakers to bring more balanced participation in every dimension. She has created these platforms called Equality Lounges which are visible and prominent on some of the main conferencing platforms globally, not only the World Economic Forum, but CES in Las Vegas or dmexco in Cologne and several others around the globe. We met Shelly last year in Davos and came to know the Equality Lounge for the first time and we just realized this is just a perfect fit with our plans to make finance a world in which we truly have gender equality in the way we serve our clients, and really consider the female and feminine sides of all of our clients’ needs. So we created the partnership with the TFQ Equality Lounge in order to spark these conversations outside the World Econmic Forum with many of the women who were there in addition to the female WEF delegates, and also because many of the very prominent gentlemen had their spouses with them and a lot of the ladies did not participate in the main conferences and were very engaged in all of the activities that took place all around the WEF during that week. There are millions of conversations going on and this year a lot of them centered on equality. I think it was fascinating that the World Economic Forum for the first time was chaired by seven women. This also sends an extremely strong signal.

“We need to raise awareness for every woman out there” Image 2
Dr. Mara Harvey will speak at the first “She Means Business” conference on 14 May 2018 at IMEX.

You consider women as the largest "emerging market". Why is that?
Various calculations done by different research reports have proven that if women were to participate in the labor force on the equivalent levels as men do in different regions around the world, this could add up to 28 trillion USD worth of wealth to the world economy. This growth potential is greater than the growth of China and India combined in terms of overall acceleration of wealth creation in the hands of women.

Is this why UBS is strongly supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal Number 5 “Gender equality and women's empowerment”?
Absolutely! So why do we care about SDG5? It is very important to us, because when we launched our initiative UBS Unique to better serve women and to empower women to really make the most of their wealth, we realized that the challenges and the opportunities go so much beyond the boundaries of the focus of our industry and wealth management, strictly speaking. We decided to put out a societal pledge for two things: First and foremost we said we would like to empower one million women globally to take better control of their finances. But most importantly we realized, when women think about investing very often they want to know how they can have a positive impact with their wealth. So we asked ourselves: Could we not “hit two birds with one stone”? By better serving women and empowering them to better manage their wealth, if they focus on more sustainability related topics, we can engage private capital much more strongly in sustainability issues. And in particular we found, that women have a real willingness to invest in companies that do well for gender equality. So we acknowledged that we have a role to play in mobilizing private investment and philanthropic capital towards initiatives, investments and opportunities that drive equality.


... heads Global UHNW (Ultra High Net Worth individuals and families) Germany, Austria, Italy. She founded and brought to life UBS Unique, a five year change program within UBS Wealth Management with focus on better serving women and strengthen their financial confidence. It offers women an informative platform about gender lens investing and a community to connect with likeminded people and profit from bespoke thoughtleadership programs around female economic empowerment and wealth 

In the European Union we face a gender pay gap of 16.3 percent and pay gaps create massive gender wealth gaps…
We ran a few calculations, because I was very curious to know, when we talk about gender pay gaps: How much of an impact does it have on your wealth creation over your lifetime? I asked our colleagues in the Chief Investment Office to add it all up for me: How much in hard dollars does a pay gap result in by the time you are retired? It wasn’t a pretty picture. We ran a simulation with various assumptions of course and factored in a 10 percent pay gap of a woman versus a man and we found out that a ten percent pay gap can lead to an almost 40 percent wealth gap over a lifetime. It is very shocking. This is exactly the power of compounding. A little amount today becomes a big amount in the future and if the amount is a gap, that gap just becomes wider, wider and wider. We need to fix it. We need to desperately fix gender pay gaps from a societal perspective.

Is this the reason why you will speak at the first “She Means Business” conference on 14 May 2018 at IMEX in Frankfurt?
It is indeed because I believe that the issue we have pinpointed and quantified is a societal issue. We need to raise awareness for every woman out there, especially for every young woman starting her career, how important it is to know what impact a pay gap can have on her wealth creation. Also, to know what the true cost of flexible work time is, the true cost of discontinuity of her career, the true impact of longevity and the importance of planning for this longevity. We think that this dialogue goes well beyond the scope we can address as an organization. We want to spark industry debate. We want other people to engage in that dialogue as well and say we all have a role to play in solving those problems. We have a lot of dialogue platforms as well around the globe and we are trying to carry this message to the four corners of the earth.  KERSTIN WÜNSCH
“A 10 percent pay gap of a woman versus a man can lead to an almost 40 percent wealth gap over a lifetime.”
Dr. Mara Harvey