Violet finds an amazing article in the Guardian; turns out men broke everything and now women are taking the lead in fixing it all (haw; and haw). I'm going to cut to the chase on values, and then give the background. On values, green venture capitalist Halla Tómasdóttir:
"We have five core feminine values. First, risk awareness: we will not invest in things we don't understand. Second, profit with principles - we like a wider definition so it is not just economic profit, but a positive social and environmental impact. Third, emotional capital. When we invest, we do an emotional due diligence - or check on the company - we look at the people, at whether the corporate culture is an asset or a liability. Fourth, straight talking. We believe the language of finance should be accessible, and not part of the alienating nature of banking culture. Fifth, independence. We would like to see women increasingly financially independent, because with that comes the greatest freedom to be who you want to be, but also unbiased advice."
Violet notes that these are not traditional left-right values, which is interesting. On the background:
[Iceland], with a population of just over 300,000 people, has been overwhelmed by an economic disaster that is threatening its very survival. But for a generation of fortysomething women, the havoc is translating into an opportunity to step into the positions vacated by the men blamed for the crisis, and to play a leading role in creating a more balanced economy, which, they argue, should incorporate overtly feminine values.
The ruling male elite is scarcely in a position to argue. The krona has collapsed; interest rates and inflation have soared; companies and households which have borrowed in foreign currency are overwhelmed by their debts and unemployment is at record levels. ...
The idea that Reykjavik, an attractive, low-rise provincial place, could be a financial nerve centre on a par with the gleaming skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and Wall Street now seems utterly absurd. Over the past 10 years, however, little Iceland became a test-bed for the new economic order. Led by businessmen such as Baugur boss Jón Asgeir Jóhannesson, a nation previously best known for cod and hot springs reinvented itself as an Atlantic tiger. The Icelanders bought stakes in huge tracts of the British high street, including House of Fraser, Whistles and Karen Millen. Their banks were equally buccaneering, adopting free market reforms with gusto and moving with relish into financial engineering. The upshot: they now owe at least six times the country's income for 2008 and have been taken into state hands.
Unlike in the UK, Iceland's women are at the forefront of the clean-up. The crisis led to the downfall of the government and the prime minister's residence - which resembles a slightly over-sized white dormer bungalow - is now occupied by Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, an elegant 66-year-old lesbian who is the world's first openly gay premier. When she lost a bid to lead her party in the 1990s, she lifted her fist and declared: "My time will come." Her hour has now arrived - and the same is true for a cadre of highly accomplished businesswomen.
Prominent among them are Halla Tómasdóttir and Kristin Petursdóttir, the founders of Audur Capital, who have teamed up with the singer Björk to set up an investment fund to boost the ravaged economy by investing in green technology. ...
Tómasdóttir says: "Our Björk fund is to focus on sustainable growth. Iceland was the first in the world into the crisis, but we could be the first out, and women have a big role to play in that. It goes back to our Viking women. While the men were out there raping and pillaging, the women were running the show at home. ...
Even before the credit crunch, Iceland scored highly on measures of sex equality, coming fourth out of 130 countries on the international gender gap index (behind Norway, Finland and Sweden). The rate of female participation in the labour force runs at more than 80%, compared with just over 90% for men; there is generous maternity and childcare provision from the state, along with paternity leave. Most Icelanders remain geographically close to their extended families, making childcare easier, and the distances in Reykjavik are small, so mothers can easily get to their children's schools in a crisis. ....
This egalitarian backdrop has given Icelandic businesswomen a self-confidence their equivalents in the UK quite simply lack, according to one senior British female executive who frequently does deals with Reykjavik.
Not everyone in Iceland has bought into the idea that women will revolutionise capitalism. "Women would like to think it's their turn now, but it won't be - there will be a bit of fuss for a while but men will keep the real power at the top," said a local taxi driver in his sixties. "I'm not giving you my name, though, because my wife speaks English and she would kill me if she read that."
That is not a view that gains much traction with Halla Tómasdóttir. "If the institutions are under the control of a single group - and now it is men - and they all think the same way, we are not going to make positive changes. For the first time in 100 years we have the chance to create a company, a society, a country, and hopefully a world that is more sustainable, more fair for men as well as women. If we are not going to do that now, then when will we?"
Interesting. Can we learn from Iceland?
UPDATE At least in finance, "men broke everything" might not be the right formulation, since not all men are crazy baldheaded banksters. Perhaps "alpha males" would be better. Though there are plenty of other things all men maybe considered to have broken, the banking system might not be one of them. Dunno. It's also true the feminist values quoted don't come from the Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, but from a VC, Halla Tómasdóttir. Whether that makes a difference or not, I'm not sure.
UPDATE Yves remarks on the Guardian article:
I actually find this sort of gender stereotyping annoying, and worse, the women here are playing it up. Women are not paragons of virtue. The reason that women can be useful reformers is they are typically only marginal players in the power structure, and they therefore have little to lose and much to gain by taking high-profile cleanup roles.