The 2016 State of Women-Owned Business Report indicates phenomenal growth in virtually every metric studied. Between 2007 and 2016 women started more businesses, grew those businesses faster than the average of all businesses, created more new jobs and contributed an increasing volume to the American economy. Overwhelming, women-owned businesses are beating the average of all businesses. Which is fantastic news.
Economic Growth Driven by Women
But imagine for just a moment what could happen to the American economy if women received more support for building businesses. If women had easy access to capital, if society championed working mothers, if models of success were founded on a flexible basis. Some of these things are already changing, but there are still too many barriers that stand in the way.
More than Flexible Working
Gloria Steinem began fighting for women’s rights in the 60’s. Sylvia Pankhurst in the early part of the 20th century. And yet here we still are. Even today it is much more difficult for women to be successful in the traditional world of business. The resounding success indicated by the numbers has come about precisely because women have found ways to work around that traditional world of business. Many of the 11 million plus women-owned businesses in the United States have been founded on time and space flexibility, creative working arrangements, and support from other women in business. What’s needed now to ensure that women can continue building businesses of the size that make significant contributions to our society? And if that’s valuable to us, why aren’t we shifting in that direction?
What Do Women Need to Achieve More?
In my previous post Women Business Tycoons? Yes! Let's Write our Own Rules, I shared Allison O’Kelly’s thoughts on what we need to get women to an equal footing in business. And while I agree with her, I would go even further.
We as a society need to consider:
- Gender based roles and responsibilities
- The availability of quality child care
- The contributions made by both men AND women
- The way we view male and female success
- How we socialize our female children
This is clearly a bigger conversation. And one that may well become much more difficult given some of the things that seem likely in the current political climate.
I think I’d stake my money on immediate change being most affected by changes in child care.
What one thing do you think would have the biggest impact on women increasing their contributions to the economy?
I’m going to continue to help women find their sales confidence to improve their success. Because even that little bit will help. Maybe then we can have the conversation about how to impact some of these larger societal issues. Because it's going to be a long haul.
It does look like I need to set up some sales confidence training for girls and young women, doesn’t it?