• Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) France's Christine Lagarde speaks during the opening plenary session on the first day of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in Davos, Switzerland, on January 23, 2013. (Laurent Gillieron/EPA, via Landov)

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    Why Investing in Women Works

    When companies support women, write Melanne Verveer and Kim Azzarelli, their businesses and communities win.

    Here in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, much of the discussion is about economic growth. The International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde inspired those attending to focus on the power of what she termed “inclusive growth”: “the evidence is clear, as is the message: when women do better, economies do better.” Today, visionary companies that initially embraced this notion through corporate philanthropy are now making investments in women a pillar of their business strategies.

    In recent years, investing in women has become more than inspiring rhetoric or good PR for a company. It’s now becoming a core business strategy yielding quantifiable returns. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in 2011, to “achieve the economic expansion we all seek, we need to unlock a vital source of growth that can power our economies in the decades to come.” By “increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity,” the secretary said, “we can have a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies.”