Yelp already lets consumers look for businesses based on categories like "good for kids" or "gender-neutral bathrooms." Starting March 1, the business-reviews site will highlight companies that are owned by women.

Yelp is partnering with fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff's Female Founders Collective--a network of around 4,000 women-owned businesses--to kick off the initiative in March, which is Women's History Month. 

"It's one thing to say you support women, but it's another to really to do that--to give people an actionable way to frequent and shop and support their local women-owned businesses," says Liina Potter, Yelp's public relations manager.

Any female entrepreneur will be able to edit her Yelp page to mark it as woman-owned. The company says it has a quality management team that will be responsible for maintaining the accuracy of such information. 

Minkoff's Female Founders Collective has provided information for at least 1,000 businesses on Yelp that are women-owned, Potter says. Up until now, Yelp, which has listings for millions of U.S. businesses, has not tracked the number of women-owned establishments on its site. In the U.S., more than 11.6 million businesses are owned by women, according to the National Organization of Women Business Owners. 

This isn't the first time Yelp has used the business profiles on its site to push a policy-driven initiative. In July, the San Francisco-based company partnered with independent, nonprofit think tank Movement Advancement Project and 175 other organizations to launch an "Open to All" campaign, allowing any business owner on Yelp to identify his or her page as welcoming of all backgrounds. The campaign was launched in response to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

"There's a growing interest in our consumers to frequent businesses that align with their own belief systems," says Potter. "So we're kind of proactively thinking about how to do that--and how to make these things a little bit more accessible to people."

For now, the women-owned designation will just show up on the right-hand side of business profiles; it's not yet a separate search filter, though Yelp says that may be coming in the future when it has amassed a larger inventory of women-designated businesses. 

Published on: Mar 1, 2019