Today is International Women's Day, and I think it's only appropriate to celebrate YOU, all the amazing women doing incredible things that women--especially women entrepreneurs and leaders--do for their communities, their economies, and the world around them. Also, to all you men reading, thanks for supporting us, especially the #mompreneur.
No. 1 reason you rock: Women are much more likely to invest back into their local networks, funneling 90 percent of their income back into the community (and I am convinced the other 10 percent is for shoes). Similarly, women tend to help each other out. Having a woman on the board of directors increases the chances of women securing top executive positions, and it also increases the salaries of women executives, according to Dell's Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders (GWEL) Scorecard.
It's networks of women helping other women that are helping push through these fiscal gaps--you won't be surprised to learn that VC firms with female partners are more than twice as likely to invest in companies with women on the executive team, and companies with female CEOs are more than three times as likely to receive funding. Unfortunately, of the billions of dollars of venture capital funding given out each year, women receive only 3 percent. It's staggering to think about the missed opportunities here--women entrepreneurs own roughly 36 percent of all the businesses in the United States, but don't receive anywhere near the level of financial support that male entrepreneurs do.
For these reasons and more, I encourage you to lend your voice to the movement and support women around the world in our quest to rise up and level out the playing field. If you think about it, we've made great strides over the years--100 years ago, women didn't even have the right to vote! But, we still have a long way to go.
There are a few other things that can be done immediately to help ameliorate these issues:
- The media should elevate women in business. Less than a quarter of all global media coverage depicts women as subjects, and a mere 6 percent of those stories challenge gender stereotypes. Journalists can help change this statistic through their coverage of female entrepreneurs.
- The government should incentivize women entrepreneurs. Red tape and decades-old regulations are putting female entrepreneurs in a tough spot, having to choose between pursuing VC funding or staying a certified woman-owned business in order to procure contracts with corporations and the government. We need to work with organizations such as the Small Business Administration and Women's Business Enterprise National Council to address these issues.
- Entrepreneurs should encourage women leaders, too. Established companies need to join the mix to help empower women with funding and mentorship opportunities. Tory Burch (with the Tory Burch Foundation); SheEO; and Dermalogica & Jane Wurwand's Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship are great examples of what can be accomplished!
In celebration of International Women's Day, two groups are stepping up in a big way to help. I hope you will check them out and join them.
Indiegogo--the global crowdfunding platform--has announced a new year-long initiative to support diversity in entrepreneurship, alongside Dell, Trep Life, Girls in Tech US, among others. For the next year, Indiegogo is going to offer extra support for women-run crowdfunding campaigns, and there's also the opportunity for women to receive additional campaign mentoring as part of the program.
Additionally, The Circular Board has announced the first Circular Summit, which will bring 250 women together to attend a two-day summit in Houston, Texas. These women will be surrounded by venture funders, mentors and media to ensure a strengthened eco-system for each woman entrepreneur to scale her business.
In order to enable more female entrepreneurs, we need to provide easier access to capital. In order to get more women into leadership roles, we need to act as mentors to the women rising through the ranks below us. In order to gain parity for women, we all need to be cognizant of the challenges females face in the business realm and address them.
Dell has always been a strong proponent for women in business, and has established programs to help bring together and support female entrepreneurs, such as the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network.
In order to help these initiatives rock and let women shine, we need to strengthen these type of systems. In short, you are all rock stars!