I’m proud to be a female business owner and member of the Women Presidents' Organization. This may come across as a generic “girl power,” thing, but here are a few significant statistics you might want to be aware of:
- Female-owned family businesses are over one and a half times more productive than male-owned family firms.
- One in five companies with revenues of a million dollars or more is owned by a woman.
- Almost all income growth in the U.S. over the past fifteen to twenty years can be attributed to women increasing their role in business.
Now that the proverbial “glass ceiling” is broken in many industries, we have to ensure there are great resources for those girls who want to succeed as entrepreneurs or high level executives. Fortunately, those resources are out there, and I want to point out a few great organizations helping to inspire our future female business leaders.
For example, Invest in Girls is an incredible program created in 2010 that helps high school-age girls in the Boston area learn about finances specifically through learning techniques that are more effective for females, through three exclusive private schools in the area. The program was recently profiled in The New York Times, where founder Dune Thorne, explained, “There are a lot of financial literacy programs out there, all doing important work. What we saw was missing is that when you have finance as a core tool in your toolbox, it opens up the world in a different way. You think about decisions differently.” Invest in Girls is currently a pilot program that will be expanded if successful.
Girls Who Rule the World is another incredible mentoring program to guide students to future success, with major funding provided by comedian Steve Harvey and his wife Marjorie. The Girls Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization offering leadership camps and workshops for young women, also does a lot of great work; the group was co-founded by bestselling author and “girl expert” Rachel Simmon.
But maybe one of the best institutions for building female leadership in the U.S. has already been in existence for 150 years: college sororities. Many women executives credit sororities for allowing them to acquire their leadership “chops:” my friend, Cathleen Carlos, founder and CEO of GetHiredByCat, puts it this way: "I was involved with Tri Delta. Originally I did not think I was a typical 'sorority" type, but once I got involved I realized what a great organization it was. It provided opportunity to help in the community and build confidence in young women. The best part for me was being able to build and grow my leadership skills. I was elected into a leadership position my first year, loved it and eventually moved into one of the vice president positions, where I was responsible for training the officers. This is when I really started to explore HR as a career option. So for me, Tri Delta was so valuable."
If we really want to increase the number of job creators in America, then it’s our responsibility to make sure women are empowered to lead, because here’s one more statistic you may not be aware of: Between 1997 and 2002, companies owned by women increased their employment by 70,000, while male-owned businesses lost one million employees.
We must be doing something right…just sayin’!
Women do have a choice--and a voice--about what they want to contribute and how they want to live their lives. So let’s do everything we can to help them speak up and step up.
[Image: Flickr user Scott Swigart]