Employed Women Face More than Gender Discrimination in 2016
Personally, as a woman in the workforce, taking a glance at overarching trends for female employees feels a tad insular. On my employment island, I have a sense of the looming gender wage gap, experienced the ignorant male colleague, and, here and there, I have been acquainted with how my name, which is evocative of a man on the other end of the phone or email, may provide me with more opportunities or off-handed respect.
In my research for this piece, I sought to find lighthearted trends from inspirational groups like The National Women’s Business Council and the Women Presidents’ Organization. Wherever I turned to shine a light on gender bias and discrimination, I discovered potent resiliency of women leaders and exactly how much perseverance was creeping into that menacing gap.
I’m genuinely exhilarated by illuminating what’s being done to empower and support women in the workplace and how exactly the giant paradigm shift at play can make a difference for every single person at work.
Women in U.S. Entrepreneurship
In March, the National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Alejandra Y. Castillo wrote, “As we celebrate Women’s History Month and the vast contributions that women have made to the strength and well-being of our nation, we are seeing the next chapters in this history being written as women take a bigger role in building our economy.”
She went on to break down why the Department of Commerce is taking the helm of America’s efforts to support and empower all entrepreneurs and innovators, regardless of gender.
“Entrepreneurship is one of our nation’s greatest assets and exports. Today, women-owned firms account for about 38 percent of all U.S. firms; with a notable mention of minority women-owned firms who have been named the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs increasing by 70 percent between 2007 to 2012.”
With minority women-owned firms as the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, how can the U.S. make it feasible for every citizen to contribute to the country’s growth and prosperity?
Castillo is the first Hispanic-American woman to lead the Agency, so she understands all too well what our national talent pool is potentially missing out on in the competitive global economy.
“We need to encourage girls and women to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential. In this way, they will build on the legacy of our foremothers and write the next great chapter in the history of America’s women.”
So what is the next chapter for women in the workplace? What trends will enrich the fabric of America’s workplace diversity?
Women in Workplace: A Summary
- Women-owned firms made up 36.2% of all non-farm businesses classified by gender in 2012.
- These businesses generated $1.6 trillion in total receipts
- There was an increase of 143,000 women-owned employer firms from 2007
- These firms employ 8.9 million people and generate receipts of $1.4 trillion
- Only one woman raises equity financing to every nine men that do
- Women-owned businesses are receiving only 2% of equity funding (as opposed to 18% for men-owned businesses).
- Women in the upper echelons of investment firms is down—in 1999 it was at 10% as of 2014 only 6% of top management at investment firms are women.
- VC firms with female partners are 2-1/2x more likely to invest in companies with women on the management team
- Only 1.8% of women’s businesses scale successfully past the one million dollar revenue mark (vs 6.3% for men).
- Women own 36.2% of all non-farm and non-publicly held businesses, but women led businesses still receive only 2.7% of all total VC funding.
- Companies with a woman CEO only received 3% of the total VC dollars, or $1.5 billion out of the total of $50.8 billion invested between 2011 and 2013
As long as the world relies upon entrepreneurship, the call to action for an even playing field for women to contribute to American growth and prosperity will ring true.
By 2012, women-owned firms made up 36.2 percent of all non-farm businesses classified by gender— nearly a 30 percent increase from 2007. And these businesses generated $1.6 trillion in total receipts—again, an increase from 2007’s $1.2 trillion. For perspective, male-owned businesses saw a 33.8 percent increase in receipts during the same period—versus the 35.1 percent increase seen with women-owners.
According to the National Women’s Business Council, 2015 was a transformational year for women entrepreneurs and their businesses. Women start 1,200 new businesses per day, including the invention of products, solving of problems, creation of jobs, and supporting their communities.
In their Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2015, the Council introduces 2015 as a transformational year for women entrepreneurs and their businesses.
“The impact is undeniable and the growth is unprecedented, but we have a long way to go before reaching parity. Women continue to lack access to some of the most crucial assets, capital and markets, necessary to launch and grow their businesses. We are at a tipping point. It’s a time for celebration, but also a call-to-action to effectively sustain this momentum.”
The report continued to share impressive watershed moments for employed women, especially the
momentum of growth when it came to the number of women-owned businesses. Last year, the rate of women-owned employer firms was three times that of men-owned employer firms. Total rate of growth for women-owned businesses is almost four times of the men-owned businesses.
Another noteworthy trend was the significant leap in growth experienced by African American women and Latinas’ numbers of businesses compared to different subpopulations of women and their male counterparts.
Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management, Managing Director, and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and White House-appointed Chair of NWBC, Carla Harris explained, “It is a ‘perfect storm’ for women entrepreneurs for a few reasons: historically low interest rates, low inflation, record amounts of cash on corporate balance sheets, re-emergence in corporate investment, increasing number and proportion of women earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and an increased appetite of Generation Xers and millennials for risk and entrepreneurship.”
The country is undergoing massive changes in the proliferation–and recognition–of women’s entrepreneurship. NWBC pointed out that there were 43,200 times when the phrase “women entrepreneurs” was used in online media between September 2014 through September 2015.
Female innovators are pioneers in revolutionizing the modern landscape of product and services in America. It certainly helps that they represent 50.8 percent of the national population and contribute $11.2 trillion in spending power. But that’s not the only control women wield: women consumers have commanded a new direction in the market to meet their previously unmet needs.
“The culture and the economy are feeding each other. As more stories of women entrepreneurs are shared, and more investments are made, the number of women thinking about pursuing entrepreneurship increases — as do the resources, programs, and supports available to them,” the NWBC suggested.
In a study for Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, it was reported that 90 percent of women customers in the U.S. would go out of their way to buy products from women, with the inherent belief that they would offer higher quality.
While corporations have responded to consumers, a few factors have catalyzed the evolution of how female owners and their networks develop new products. Thanks to the Internet, and crowdfunding platforms, several markets have broken wide open to women entrepreneurs.
NWBC notes, “Rewards-based crowdfunding platforms are giving women unprecedented access to capital. Indiegogo has reported that 42 percent of its crowdfunding campaigns are run by women and women raise more funds than men both in terms of the number of contributions and amount of money. Plum Alley is crowdfunding for women by women.”
With the implementation of the 2012 JOBS Act came implementation of equity crowdfunding by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In turn, this fuels further capital for women entrepreneurs and support even more lucrative opportunities for women investors.
Did you know that 88 percent of businesses on the Etsy platform are female-owned? Indiegogo reported that 42 percent of crowdfunding campaigns are run by women, who also raise more funds than men in both number of contributions and amount size.
Women are establishing funds that specifically look for companies with women founders and leaders. Golden Seeds has invested over $70 million in more than 65 women-led businesses since 2005.
- Golden Seeds: a woman-focused early investment fund
- Astia: a nonprofit dedicated to identifying and supporting high-growth women entrepreneurs
- Texas Women Ventures: an investment firm giving millions to women entrepreneurs in Texas
Clearly, diversity is good for business and investments. Companies likes Bristol-Myers Squibb, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Insurance, and PepsiCo have joined NWBC and are readily expanding their outreach and training to include women-owned businesses to participate in purchasing programs. An extensive list of grants available to women-owned businesses can be found here.
The improved access and triumphant navigation of these programs is definitely great news. Infrastructural shifts like this bolster opportunities for women–already savvy investors–and support the trend of women receiving more investments. They are already closing in close to half of the investment decisions in the U.S., with control over $11.2 trillion investable assets. In turn, these investments by women are directed towards education, environment, poverty reduction, corporate diversification, and more types of progress.
“While women are often able to do more with less—they shouldn’t have to. Too many women continue to lack access to capital, markets and networks to effectively launch, grow and scale their businesses,” the NWBC report concludes. “Women have proven to be a cultural and economic force to be reckoned with—and to be worthy of our investment. Our solutions must also be diverse to address the myriad of obstacles women face in launching and growing their ventures.”
What trend matters most? The obvious is becoming clear: women’s enterprises with growth potential and interest should have access to any requisite resources and advocacy to make their ambitions come true.