Digitalisation and supporting women in small business may be the key to Australia’s economic road to recovery, says Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
The two factors that will help most during its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be the ability to embrace digitalisation in the way we do business and the support offered to women who run their own small to medium businesses (SMBs), according to Facebook’s chief operating officer and former head of Google, Sheryl Sandberg.
Speaking at the first virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meeting, Ms Sandberg backed up her argument with data from Facebook researchers which showed that women are disproportionately affected by the economic effects of the pandemic.
Ms Sandberg said that 22 per cent of female-led SMBs have closed because of the pandemic compared to just 18 per cent of male-led SMBs.
At the same time, Ms Sandberg said, women in business are hampered by domestic responsibilities, citing 28 per cent of women owners or managers of SMBs who spent at least six hours a day on domestic tasks and family care compared to just eight per cent of men in the same roles.
The same research showed that digitalisation will play a key role in generating revenue for small business, an essential aspect in economic recovery.
Half (50 per cent) of operational SMBs on Facebook in August this year reported that 25 per cent or more of their sales were made digitally during the past month.
Furthermore, 49 per cent of Australian SMBs expect they will increase their reliance on digital tools to interact with their customers after the pandemic is over.
“The pandemic has proved the value of connection, cooperation across borders, and the economic opportunity created by an open, accessible internet,” Sheryl Sandberg says.
“We should give everyone the opportunity to be part of this digital future. We will continue to invest in digital literacy programs, online education, and improve connectivity for people in remote communities so that we can together build a thriving digital economy that will power Asia-Pacific for years to come.”
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