Women In Business

Three ways women benefit companies

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Do you ever long for a few concrete examples or studies to point toward, when challenged about the benefits women bring to business organizations?

This article will provide a few examples of ways women benefit companies, including initiative, adaptability, innovation, gender diversity, and social connectivity. Women can use these talking points when seeking out venture capital funding or applying for a small business loan or an internal promotion.

Women & profitability

Washington State University cites a Harvard Business Review study that ranked women higher in 12 out of 16 leadership competencies—such as self-development and driving results. Although they also rank higher in skills like social connection and collaboration, which may be considered more inherently female traits, these characteristics are also good for company profits and the proverbial bottom line.

A greater number of female representatives at high levels like executive officer and board director also helps propel more women into executive leadership roles, according to Fast Company. When women work for a CEO who is female, they also show more interest in applying for an executive position—29 percent, to be exact.

In addition to the above research, The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) found that “[Having] at least 30 percent of women in C-suite positions adds 6 percent to a firm’s net profit margin, on average.” So why is there still a hold-up in equalizing the playing field?

Gender diversity & innovation

Innovation in the business world translates to creating new products and introducing new methods and ideas into a company’s overall strategy and approach. Talent Culture recently interviewed three female executives to find out what elements were behind their business success.

For all three, a culture of learning and experimentation was key to finding the best solutions for customers. Part of what makes a great product is the ability to anticipate the needs of both men and women as customers—rather than simply seeing a product or service from a male perspective. Being client-focused means becoming attuned to the needs of women as well as men—thus increasing the number of prospective clients or customers and making it more likely your product will reach the largest possible number of people.

Innovation in business concerns not only product and process experimentation but also new and creative approaches to marketing, organizational methods, and work culture. Innovation can affect a company’s operations both externally and internally through, for example, embracing technological advancements, change, and growth. It can also involve taking an “outsider’s approach” to business, without being afraid to take risks.

An example of innovative internal workplace culture could involve a nontraditional approach to work-life balance and allowing employees to work remotely or make flexible schedules to allow time for picking their children up from school or making doctor’s appointments in the middle of the week. Notably, these types of flexible scheduling allowances are more inclusive of women with children or fathers whose partners work full time.

Social connections & funding women

One last hurdle exists for prospective female CEOs, and that is the challenge of getting your business idea funded with venture capital. Inc.’s Kimberly Weisul recently profiled Vicki Saunders, the founder of SheEO, a venture capital funding startup. Due to the fact that female CEOs receive a mere 3 percent of all venture capital funding, Saunders wanted to change the funding dynamic to be more open and interested in women’s business ideas.

A similar female-led venture capital firm, Female Founder Office Hours, was recently started to provide support for women in search of venture capital-level funding. Like the Women’s Venture Fund, Female Founder Office Hours connects women with investors interested in supporting women-owned businesses.

There are other sources of business funding for women in the form of small business loans, such as Union Bank, the Tory Burch Foundation, and the Small Business Administration. Grant programs that help fund woman-owned companies include Eileen Fisher, FedEx, and Smart Women Grants.

We can’t afford to ignore the business world’s vast gender imbalance forever.  Doing so will guarantee company products and services will continue catering to a limited audience, thus limiting potential profits. Moreover, it will guarantee that the next generation of CEOs is likely to provide little to no opportunity for our daughters and future generations of women in search of role models.

Lastly, we ignore the overwhelming evidence that women are good for profitability at our peril.  According to the Association for Psychological Science, “A lack of regulatory actions was associated with a lower percentage of women on boards.” Although we may feel uncomfortable with quotas here in the U.S., on a societal level, they clearly work.

So what’s the answer? How can we start to effectively shake up the gender imbalance in the highest levels of corporate America? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About Avery Taylor Phillips

Avery Taylor Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.

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