Strength in Gender Diversity

Do you know that women make up about 51% of the U.S. population? There is a good chance that you do.

Less well-known is the percentage of businesses owned by women: 40%.

The percentage of management positions held by women: 38%.

Or the percentage of woman CEOs at Fortune 500 companies: 7.4%.

Although the numbers of women that own businesses and are in leadership positions are improving, they still fall well short of reaching and accurate reflection of the population.

As a woman-owned business, Trademark Venues is acutely aware of the challenges faced in increasing the number of woman entrepreneurs and leaders as well as the advantages of diversity in leadership and the workforce in general.

The Challenge

According to Forbes, just less than 35 years ago, a woman could not obtain a business loan without a male relative as a co-signer. Although 35 years sounds like a long time, it is within lifetime of many of us and the fact is it gave men decades upon decades of a head start into entrepreneurship. It was only with the introduction of the 1988 Women’s Business Ownership Act that this changed.

Despite the strides made with that Act and the positive impact it has had on woman-led entrepreneurship, recent surveys show that men are still twice as likely to raise $100,000 or more in outside funding for a start-up and loan approval rates for women remain 15% to 20% below the approval rate for men.

While any sort of start-up business or business loan can be difficult to execute successfully, there is a clear disparity that remains. Above we wrote that 40% of businesses are owned by women and while this is true, the U.S. Department of Commerce finds that those businesses are generally smaller and produce far less revenue and sales than male-owned counterparts largely due to the more restrictive access to capital.

Additionally, many of us are familiar with the kind of harassment that is far too common in businesses across the nation. A 2018 study by McKinsey found that 35% of women have experienced sexual harassment in their careers. With women in leadership roles, that harassment is even worse with perhaps as many as double the number of woman leaders experiencing sexual harassment depending on what study in examined. The point being that sexual harassment is terribly prolific for women in leadership.

The above are only two of the challenges briefly summarized. Even a cursory search for the challenges women face in breaking into leadership or starting and running their own businesses will reveal many more serious challenges.

Not to appear to be a braggadocio, but Trademark Venues is proud of the success we have had in cultivating positive financial relationships with both local and national institutions and business partners. It is some of those relationships that have led from our beginnings with one intimate wedding venue to our current portfolio of six beautiful event venues, a stylish restaurant, and a stunning corporate campus.

We stand equally proud of our leadership team that boasts a membership composed of at least 50% woman leaders. That diversity is important and we’ll talk more about it soon.

The Edge

Near the conclusion of the 1988 Women’s Business Ownership Act, there is a statement that reads: “Women-owned businesses may well provide the cutting edge—and the American advantage—in the worldwide economic competitiveness fast upon us.” That statement has proven to be somewhat prescient. Although there remain obvious challenges for women in business, there are amazing achievements being made. According to a recent report from American Express, the number of woman-owned businesses has grown by 58% since 2007 compared to an overall rate of growth of only 12%. Further, women are now more likely than men to start a new business. Although those numbers tell only a part of the story, they are encouraging.

In addition to the rapid growth of woman-led businesses, some polls show that nearly half of all Americans prefer to work for a female leader over a male leader due to the perception that a female led business is more likely to be purpose-driven, more likely to offer equal pay, and is more inspiring in making people believe they can also achieve an executive or leadership position.

Finally, studies done across tens of thousands of employees find that there is more positive engagement with organizations’ strategy and mission in women-led companies and women-led companies inspire more employee belief in the product or service. Research also continually shows that gender diverse companies have increased productivity, greater innovation, better decision-making and higher employee retention than organizations that are significantly homogenous or lack diversity.

As a leader in gender diversity, Trademark Venues can attest to the edge that comes from such diversity. We innovate because we are different and bring unique views and culture; avoidance of groupthink is key. We care because we experience the exposure to others and their challenges and triumphs; building our empathy at every step. We are successful not despite our diversity, but because of it.

The Future

There are now more women-led businesses in the United States than there have ever been and more are being created every day. Those businesses in turn create more opportunities for both women and men to find their paths to success as employees and leaders within those organizations. Even more significant is that the rate of women-led businesses continues to grow and with positive results for workers and the economy. Don’t underestimate the value of diversity and success it can bring to you and your communities.

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