TOP WAYS WOMEN CAN BE SUPPORTED IN BUSINESS


In researching for this article, I found an interesting statistic that spoke volumes to the self-capping of women in the business world. A study was done called “Ambition and Gender at Work”. The survey was conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management. From the survey, the study found that 70 percent of men expected to become managers in business while only 50 percent of women believed they could make it to a management position. This means that half the women entering the work force already believe they will get no further than support positions. According to the Harvard Business Review, in 2014, 65% of women were is staff-support positions. To take this a step further in regards to women and entrepreneurship, Lisa Doward in her article, The Difference Between the Roll of Men and Women in the Business, indicated that men often start their own businesses to ‘be their own boss’ and grow their businesses to be as large as possible; whereas, women tend to start their own businesses in order to integrate work and family. By doing this, women tend to be self-limiting and try and keep their businesses small and manageable. This would mean that many potential female entrepreneurs believe they are not capable of running large businesses and maintain a family. Believing in yourself was one of the top 13 in Christine Perketts article ‘13 Simple Ways Women Can Make a Difference. She emphasized the importance of women to believe in her own capabilities and skills and how important it is that women support each other in the business world. Women need to show each other this “through kindness, support and camaraderie”. She states that the nastiness that often occurs between women in business is due to insecurities and intimidation.
 
There are many reasons why women feel insecure and intimidated in the workplace. Ann Morrison describes the hidden problem as the ‘glass ceiling’. It is a barrier “so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women from moving up the corporate hierarchy.” According to Morrison and her colleagues, the glass ceiling “is not simply a barrier for an individual, based on the person’s inability to handle a higher-level job. Rather, the glass ceiling applies to women as a group who are kept from advancing higher because they are women.” In the article ‘Empowering Women in Business’, written by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the ‘glass ceiling’ or reasons women feel intimidated and insecure have been linked to the following: harassment, ‘the old boys club’, gender discrimination, job segregation and lax enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. Although there seems to be so much against women in business and the workplace including her own self-doubt, there are ways she can be supported. She can be a successful entrepreneur and she does have the capabilities and skills to make it to the top. One of the most crucial ways women can be supported is by investing in female-led start ups. Angel investing, according to Perkett, even with $1,000 can ensure that women are more successful. Lisa Doward cites Haraday’s research, stating that women business owners tend to believe they cannot get business loans even if they applied and so they often do not even bother trying. Although there has been an overall increase of business loans for female-owned businesses, there must be more pressure on banks, financial institutions and at the policy level where women are allowed greater access to business loans and grants. According to the 2012 annual report from the National Women Business Council, men start their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women ($135,000 vs. $75,000). This disparity is slightly larger among firms with high-growth potential ($320,000 vs. $150,000), and substantially larger in the Top 25 firms ($1.3 million vs. $210,000). The report also indicated that women received only 2 percent of total funding from outside equity compared to 18 percent for men.
 
Second behind investing in female business owners is the importance of mentorship. Women in the workplace and female entrepreneurs need to support each other. Various sources cited that mentorship, especially amongst women is critical to helping women become leaders in the business world. Female mentors are important, particularly strong, female mentors who give of their time and resources. One step further than mentorship, is the need for a career sponsor. The difference between a mentor and a career sponsor is that career sponsors are professionals who are already successful in business. They not only offer guidance and support, but also aid in the access to connections and capital. According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review special report, women are 54 percent less likely to have a career sponsor than men. In addition to capital investment and mentorship, women need entrepreneurial education. Because there is so much fear and doubt involved and many hurdles to overcome, women need to have access to training so that she can feel equipped to open her own business or embark on the path of a top business executive. Women in the workplace and female entrepreneurs need to be proactively given the information and resources that are available to her in the forms of angel investing, loans, grants and educational programs. Finally, both men and women in the community who are truly interested in seeing the advancement of women in the workplace should find local entities that support women in business and join in their efforts.
 
Since males hold top executive positions as well as dominate leading positions at the policy level, it is important that males champion the cause of women in business and join the ranks in supporting women in the business world. Goldman Sachs economist Kevin Day calculated that eliminating the gap between male and female employment would boost GDP in the U.S. by 9 percent. It is important that male leaders understand that female leadership in the business world is in the best interest of everyone. If narrowing the gender gap was focused on, the global income per person could potentially rise by 20 percent by 2030. According to The Economist article written by Tory Burch, women reinvest 90% of their earnings in their families and communities. This means that investing in women is an investment in our collective future.