According to the US Department of Labor, women comprise approximately 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force. Yet, according to a recent article in Business Insider magazine, women typically earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, which translates into the average woman’s median annual earnings being $10,800.00 less than a man’s. This pay disparity could be the one of the factors behind the surge of women starting their own businesses in the last few years. A recent Forbes article stated these impressive numbers: “There are more women-owned businesses than ever before - 9.9 million women-owned businesses [in 2015], up from 7.8 million in 2007 — a 28 percent jump. Women-owned businesses now represent an incredible 36 percent of all businesses, up from 30 percent in 2007.”
While these numbers are moving in the right direction, many businesswomen realize that in order to keep the ball rolling, they must pass on their knowledge and know-how. Last week, we started a conversation with four remarkable women who will be a part of the SCORE Women’s Business Forum at the Grapevine Convention Center on Thursday, March 8 about why they believe it’s so important to pay it forward. We conclude that conversation this week.
Mark Fadden (MF): “Why do you think it’s important to have women in leadership positions in business?”
Cindy Lu (CL), serial entrepreneur and founder of HR Mastermind Groups (CHROPartners.com) and Consultants Business Academy ( cindylu.net): “Because our daughters are watching. They need good role models, and they need to see that limitless future possibilities are in store for them. We [typically] make the purchasing decisions at home, so we know what we want in the market. We need to be in leadership positions to help guide companies in the right direction. There's a reason why retail is struggling so much today; it's not listening to the consumer. Women tend to listen better.”
Judy Hoberman (JH), President, Selling In A Skirt; Executive Director, Walking on the Glass Floor: “Women bring another perspective to the table. Women are relationship builders. Women have intuition and can know in a second who they want to continue a conversation with and who they don't. Women are nurtures and have empathy so they are aware of what is going on and can generally show the correct emotion without being emotional. Women also have some essential qualities that others may or may not recognize as leadership qualities but they are powerful and necessary i.e. authenticity, generosity, courage, resilience and more that will bring another dimension to leadership. Many times women are promoted into leadership without knowing what is really being asked of them. When the timing is right, they will rise to the occasion and get the job done. Women believe in collaboration and want to give other women the opportunity that they were given and help emerging leaders find their place as well.”
Hillary Strasner (HS), Business Coach and Entrepreneur: “As someone who owned a business with hundreds of employees, I believe it is very important to have input from varying viewpoints in decision making. Having a well-rounded team includes both men and women. We all know that women and men often look at same thing differently. Creating an opportunity to engage the feedback and unique perspectives are key ingredients to making a business successful.”
MF: “Is it more important for women than men to network? Why or why not?”
CL: “I believe it's equally important for both men and women to network. But, according to a recent McKinsey study, women are not as well connected as they need to be for advancement - both earlier and later in their careers. For women to catch up, we have to create our own networks, and we need to network up with both men and women. I can tell you that all the opportunities that I've been tapped for have been because I have been connected with the right people and they saw something in me. I made sure that people knew who I was and that I delivered results. Networking has unquestionably been the single most important thing I’ve done in my career.”
Suzan Dick (SD), SCORE Mentor and Owner of Level 10 Strategies, an HR Consulting Firm: “In my opinion, networking is equally important for men and women; however, men have traditionally done a better job of using social situations for business networking. Unless women get comfortable with networking, they’ll find themselves at a disadvantage in a business environment. Cindy Lu, who is one of the best networkers I know, will be sharing some of her top networking tips at the upcoming SCORE Women’s Business Forum – and the forum will be a great place to practice.”
MF: “What other ways are women different than men when it comes to business? And how can women leverage these differences to stay a step ahead of the competition?”
JH: “Men and women are different in just about everything that they do. One of the biggest topics is communication. If you can master that, you've got it covered professionally and personally. I find that men speak in bullet points and women are storytellers. When you take your lead from the person you are speaking to, you'll find the conversation will be easier. For instance, if a woman asks a man a question and he answers with a yes or a no and no other thoughts, he is more of a bottom line person and you need to get to the bottom line. If a woman asks a man a question and he gives her more of a reason, she can continue asking questions and use open-ended questions so that he can give you more information and listen carefully because his "why" is in there.”
HS: “I think women have a different perspective in how they look at things. [We are] innovative with our ideas, solutions, and capitalize on our ability to master multitasking. Also, women tend to have a high emotional quotient (EQ), emotional intelligence and intuition. Our ability to show extraordinary empathy towards others and develop strong working relationships makes a huge difference in delivering on deadlines and producing results.
“It's time to change from the archaic thinking and create a fair playing field. We have a choice as women and as a society, to let go of ego and the status quo, while rising up to our greatest version of ourselves. We can play small and allow the current political and cultural conditioning to win, but we don't have too. Women get to be successful entrepreneurs and business owners, while simultaneously being amazing and loving wives, and active and connected moms. Come to the business forum and tell your friends. I'm looking forward to speaking and passing on the lessons and gifts I have learned in my 20 years of business!”
The SCORE Women’s Business Forum will be held at the Grapevine Convention Center on Thursday, March 8. For more information and to register, visit www.scoreforum.org.