Monday, November 25, 2013

“Woman-Owned”: Expanding the Possibilities for Professional Diversity and Moving Beyond Gender Bias

The WBENC, or Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, certifies woman-owned businesses for their increased ability to compete for business opportunities provided by WBENC corporate members and government agencies. The WBENC certification can provide a tremendous advantage for those women business owners and leaders who aspire for greater visibility and success.

Because let’s face it: the statistics surrounding the rise of women in the modern day workplace are not as favorable as many might think. 

Women currently hold about 15% of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, while only about 18% of US congressional representatives are women. Let’s not forget, in addition, that full-time women workers still earn, on average in the US, 82¢ for every dollar earned by their male counterparts (Forbes 2013).

Yet, on the flipside, the number of woman-owned firms continues to grow, and even beyond that remains the fact that within the past six years, since the depth of the U.S. recession, the only businesses other than large, publicly traded corporations that have helped employment grow are privately held majority women-owned firms (American Express Open 2013).

When we look yet closer at the available data on women as business owners, however, we see that despite the fact that the number of women-owned firms continues to grow at a rate exceeding the national average, and now accounts for 29% of all enterprises, women-owned firms only employ 6% of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of business revenues—roughly the same share they contributed in 1997 (American Express Open 2013).

The disparity between the desires and, perhaps even pressures, for women to succeed in business, and the reality of the ease with which a woman can ascend the ranks in the business world, calls into question how much we are still evaluating performance on the unspoken basis of gender, rather than skills and abilities. But perhaps yet, if we more closely examine our cultural values, we should ask ourselves this question: are we raising our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters, and goddaughters to overperform while underanticipate?

Globally as well as nationally, in order to overcome gender biases we require a system that compensates fairly on an equal basis.