International Women’s Day: Press for progress
International Women’s Day (March 8, 2018) is upon us and we have another opportunity to be a part the progress. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day commemorates the movement for women’s rights, which was first observed in 1910. (FYI: International Men’s Day is held each November 19.)
Women-owned businesses lead the way
We have seen promising growth of women-owned and -led businesses, particularly in the United States. Women-owned companies are the fastest growing U.S. business segment, accounting for a projected 39% or 12.5 million of all U.S. businesses in 2017 (up from 36% or 9.9 million in 2012), according to The Business Journal’s 2016 study on the subject. In other areas, women business owners and leaders still lag far behind their male counterparts. For example, as of 2016, there are an estimated 11,313,900 women-owned companies in the United States. A mere 1.72% of women-owned companies (195,100 companies) are projected to exceed $1,000,000.00 in gross revenues, in 2016. Business financing opportunities are comparatively scarce for women businesses. Women account for only 16% of conventional small business loans and these loans account for only 4.4% of the total dollar value of loans according to a U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Policy Brief, February 2017.
The parity problem
The official 2018 International Women’s Day theme is “Press for Progress.” There is a strong and growing demand, both domestically and globally, to make better, faster and more impactful progress toward gender parity. Women business owners have a lot to manage, oftentimes not only running enterprises and providing for a team of employees, but serving as the primary family caregiver. With those competing priorities, how can we possibly also lead the charge for this kind of change? Occasions such as International Women’s Day are a strong call to action. It’s days like this that remind us of the many ways that we can continue to create and support progress.
The business owners’ call to action
As business owners, we have incredible opportunities to help achieve gender parity. In fact, we are prime candidates to lead this charge. A Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study found that women make up nearly half of all social entrepreneurs, compared to women who account for approximately 4 of 10 traditional entrepreneurs. Research-based evidence suggests that women business owners and leaders more often pursue social entrepreneurship. Women have made the connection between social entrepreneurship being an economic driver. Reinvestment in local and global communities drives financial and economic success.
On International Women’s Day, take a bit of time, reflect on how each of us has helped to close the gender gap. Take a bit more time and identify what each of us can do in the coming weeks, months and year as a business leader, an influencer and a mentor to have an impact.
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