Remarkable Advances For Women Business Owners

By Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

Annual Mtg 2014 - #2The U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (SBO) showed impressive expansion for women-owned businesses. The survey’s latest data, released in August, showed nearly 10 million women-owned firms in the United States. This represents a 27% improvement from the survey’s last results in 2007. In the long term, the number of women-owned companies has increased over 50% since the survey showed 6.5 million firms in 2002.

This growth in women-owned firms is an encouraging economic indicator. Just as important, this progress occurred during the largest recession since the Great Depression. It stands as a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of our country’s female business owners.

The SBO is an important tool for assessing the state and growth of businesses, particularly women-owned. The Census Bureau describes this survey as providing “the only source of detailed and comprehensive data on the status, nature, and scope of women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses.” While only the preliminary findings have been released, it provides an important preview of the more comprehensive data that will be made available later this year. The complete dataset will include more specified demographic breakdowns of firm ownership characteristics, including women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses as well as revenues, size, industry-classification data, and geographic information.

It is imperative to use the most complete, comprehensive, and timely data to structure reasoned, directed policy initiatives and make informed decisions, thus, we are looking forward to having the complete survey data later this year. It will be an invaluable tool for guiding our policy direction moving forward, educating government entities and providing useful comparisons for individual firms. We whole-heartedly expect the full dataset to reveal many more successes.

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

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Each year on August 26th we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, the day women were granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1920. This day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but it also recognizes the ongoing fight toward full economic equality. While we have made gained some ground with WIPP’s efforts to increase federal contracting opportunities for women, we still have a long way to go with issues such as access to capital, equal pay, and ensuring more women are in leadership roles in the corporate and political spheres.

See below for more resources on Women’s Equality Day:

Please don’t forget to recognize this important day by highlighting it via your social media channels.  Use the hashtag – #WomensEqualityDay to add your voice to the chorus in recognizing the important role women play in our nation.

SBA’s Announcement of the 2016 InnovateHER Challenge and Summit

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By Annie Wilson, Intern

On Tuesday, August 4th the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the launch of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit. In partnership with Microsoft, the 2016 InnovateHER includes the second round of the women’s business competition to feature new, innovative products and services that help to change and empower the lives of women and families. Last year, the SBA engaged over 100 organizations and reached 1000+ entrepreneurs around the country and this year they have expanded their challenge to include a women’s summit.

It is the SBA’s hope that through this summit they can unveil products or services that have a measurable impact on women and their families, fulfill a marketplace need and have potential for commercialization. The SBA recognizes that while women control 80% of the purchasing power in this country they only make up less than 5% of venture capitalists. The InnovateHER Challenge is an effort to bridge that economic standard for women and elevate commercial success for women entrepreneurs and products for women.

The InnovateHER event will kick off in the fall of 2015 in its initial round starting with competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, resource partners and other organizations. The SBA is encouraging organizations all across the country to participate in this challenge to provide accessibility to an innovative space for women. A way in which organizations can help the InnovateHER challenge and women entrepreneurs within their community is to host a local business competition and submit the winner to the SBA no later than December 3rd, 2015 for the semi final rounds. The SBA will then select up to 10 semifinalists from their community nominations that will be sent to the final pitch competition. The 2016 InnovateHER and final pitch competition will be held March 16-17th, 2016 in Washington D.C. At the final competition, the remaining contestants will do one final marketing pitch and compete to be one of the top three winners to receive up to $70,000 in prize money.

Make sure to check out last year’s winners: LIA Diagnostics, the Shower Shirt, and Trusst.

If you’d like to learn more about the challenge rules or how to become a host organization, please click here.

If you’d like to learn more about the challenge itself, please click here.

Momentum of Women in Tech

Women in the tech industry is getting more and more coverage in last couple of weeks and days, from the #ILookLikeAnEngineer tweet storm to the White House Demo Day event resulting in tech giants announcing plans to hire more women and minorities. Intel went even further, offering their employees bigger referral bonuses when recommending a woman candidate.

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It is all part of a long-term public discussion about women in technology, or rather, addressing the fact that there is not enough women working in the technology sector. Despite high profile stories on successful women leading tech giants, the numbers are actually getting worse. In last two decades, there was a steady decline of women working in tech industry – from 35% in 1990 to just 26% in 2013. Some blame the pipeline, other the unfriendly “bro” culture or not favorable family policies that prevent women from building long-term careers in the tech industry. But the overall outcome is the same – 41% of women end up leaving tech jobs after couple of years.

Rachel Tomas provides deep insight into the topic in her latest story for medium.com. As a programmer, she discusses components of the tech culture which she states led her to leave her tech career, citing unconscious bias against women.

Ms. Tomas highlights several statistics from studies on gender disparities in the tech industry:

How can the tech industry make positive changes to be more inclusive of women? Ms. Tomas makes several recommendations:

  • More comprehensive training of managers, especially in fast growing companies where engineers are often being promoted without any training at all.
  • More formal hiring and promotion criteria to avoid decisions based on “gut feel” which is often unconsciously biased as learned from the above studies.
  • Strong leadership implementing concrete measures to support unbiased culture and diversity.
  • Regular audits on employee data such as comparison and evaluation of earnings, promotions, performance reviews, and attrition rates among genders.
  • Cease encouraging and rewarding employees to stay late at work which besides risk of burnouts leads to discrimination of people with families.
  • Create a collaborative environment instead of competitive one.
  • Offer adequate maternity leave without compromises as requiring participation on teleconferences during leave.

Read Rachel Tomas’s full piece here.

Flourishing women with flourishing careers

Start your week with an article on women who continue building their careers in the age which is usually connected with retirement and taking care of grandchildren -> Clinton, Yellen, and Warren all reached their 60s having raised families and built long professional tracks as well.

Statistics also point to a significant rise in entrepreneurship during the “retirement years”. According to Kauffman stFlourishing womenudy, Americans in their fifties and sixties have started businesses at a faster pace over the last decade, while that pace has continuously slowed among Americans in their twenties and early thirties. The article puts a new perspective on the topic: “Perhaps having to wait awhile isn’t an entirely bad thing. If more people in professional and public life had to perform, and keep performing, before they got top posts, all of us might be better off.”

Whether building and expanding professional careers, entering public service, or building that dream business, retirement years are now years of opportunity and excitement for all of us.

Read the whole article here http://theatln.tc/1IF5GHi

Why it is Important to Recognize Equal Pay Day

Equal PayToday, April 14, 2015, we recognize Equal Pay Day. This day marks how far into the year American women must work to earn what American men earned in the previous year. The National Committee on Pay Equality put Equal Pay Day into place in 1996 as a public awareness event to alert people of the gap between men and women’s wages.  The White House estimates that full-time working women only earn 77% of what their male counterparts earn. This means women need to work about 60 EXTRA days to earn what men have earned in the previous year! In short, it is important to remember this day each year, as long as this gap continues to exist.

Please check out this list of resources on Equal Pay Day:

A Women’s Place is On the Money

Women on 20sIt seems ironic that while women control as much as 80 percent of the consumer buying decisions in this country and increasingly are taking the helm at businesses large and small, they are not represented on the bills in our wallets. There’s one woman who’s on a mission to change that — WIPP member Barbara Ortiz Howard and her nonprofit Women On 20s.

This week, in conjunction with the start of Women’s History Month, Barbara and her team hope Americans everywhere will visit the website, www.womenon20s.org to have them vote on their choice for the woman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Treasury code requires that portraits on paper currency be of individuals of great stature, but they have to be deceased. Changing one of those faces can be ordered by the Treasury Secretary or the President without an act of Congress. Last August, President Obama tipped his hat toward the idea of featuring more women on U.S. currency in an off-the-cuff remark during a speech in Ohio. Barbara’s strategy is to encourage him to take the next step with a public mandate achieved through this online referendum. Barbara believes that having a woman’s portrait on our paper money “can become a symbol of greater changes to come.”  Recognizing women’s historical accomplishments and contributions to our society by “elevating them to their rightful place alongside men on our money,” she says, “is something that’s long overdue.”

Part of the Women On 20s mission is to have the new “woman’s bill” issued in time for the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. While no Congressional approval is required, the process of producing a new issue can take several years, from commissioning to design to minting. The organization believes the $20 bill is ripe for change. It’s due for a redesign in keeping with efforts to prevent counterfeiting.

Barbara, owner of All County Restoration, a roofing company outside of New York City, is no stranger to the challenges of working in a male-dominated business. She has long been irked by the absence of a woman’s image on our paper money. About a year ago she decided to try and do something about it by launching the Women On 20s campaign. She took her inspiration from her daughter and her athletic, “sporty-girl” friends. She explained, “as they grew up I wanted to honor their individuality, pride and expectations that they’ll be valued as women who can and will succeed on a level playing field with men.”

Women On 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone says she shaped the campaign not only to achieve the goal of getting a woman’s portrait on the $20 bill, but to educate and stimulate conversation, “not just a national conversation, but conversation at every dinner table in America.” By recognizing the accomplishments of the 15 women on the slate of candidates, she said, “we hope to honor all women. The idea is to give as many Americans as possible a chance to take part in something so much larger than just changing a face on a bill.”

WIPP supports the Women On 20s mission and we hope our trail-blazing members will cast their votes beginning March 1st and take to Facebook, Twitter and other social media to spread the word. As the campaign’s slogan states — and we wholeheartedly agree, “A Woman’s Place is on The Money.