For quite some time now women owned and women led businesses have been on the rise. In 2019, there were approximately 13 million women owned businesses (or 42% of firms in the US) in the United States, however with the 2020 Pandemic many women faced some of the greatest challenges due to having to blend family and work life while everyone was at home. Along with missing out on having childcare, they were also met with the challenge of managing their children’s online learning or homeschooling education.
Where women were once making some headway in narrowing the gender gap, the erratic changes in the world, due to the events of the Pandemic, put women back at a great disadvantage. When it comes to women-owned businesses, research shows that a whopping 70% of women who seek business funding are denied. Along the same lines is another disturbing statistic, which as a Voice/Speaking Coach I pay particular attention to, shows venture pitches made by a male voice were more than twice as likely to be funded than venture pitches made by female voices. To break this down numerically that means 63% of male pitches are chosen versus 31.6% of female pitches. This is just a small peek into the gender biases that women are up against when it comes to owning or running a business, regarding something so simplistic in nature, as the sound, tone or style of their voices and the ways that they talk are not valued the same when it comes to business. The gap increases even more drastically when broken down by race and ethnicity amongst women.
The great unspoken, debatable question is – Is it smart to allow women to be Feminine in the workplace? Many women who are in business try to play it safe by becoming or acting more masculine to be seen as an equal in the workforce. The extra pressure of trying to fit into masculine models of business creates an imbalance in work and home life. For women it also creates an inner divide which negates feelings of confidence and competence that prevents women from actualizing their full potential and functioning in their zone of genius. So what if women were honored and paid well for their natural feminine attributes? What if instead of trying to behave, operate, think or speak like a man, it was their feminine qualities that were valued, encouraged and recognized as invaluable leadership skills in business?
Let’s consider this, during the Pandemic all of society had to adapt to the growing changes of the world by leading with more feminine aspects of leadership such as empathy, compassion, and inclusivity. These changes occurred as a result of the direct necessity to now take into account the growing demands on employees who were impacted by lockdowns, health concerns and financial issues which were directly affecting home/work balance as well as emotional and physical well-being of individuals. Skills like active listening, effective communication, collaboration, self-awareness and other aspects of emotional intelligence became more prominent for everyone during this time. Now in 2021, more people, both men and women, have to value mental, emotional and physical health to support their business success. The emphasis in business culture has shifted now more than ever to be High Touch in ways in which you are cultivating and nurturing relationships with clients, buyers and teams alike.
A radical shift in business culture needs to occur in valuing business relationships and taking a closer look at the biases that exist inside of a business, while creating a work environment where women can thrive and get ahead. Offering educational talks and in-house training can best support the growing needs of working women post pandemic that will make a huge difference for your business. Overall, maintaining a proper work-life balance helps to minimize stress levels in the workplace for all. This needs to happen as a top-down approach or initiative but one that includes all employees’ voices and concerns to create a well-rounded, harmonious work environment. Having women’s voices at the table will close current gaps and open up doors for innovation in our evolving world.
Insert Video Of Christine Speaking About This Topic
Take an inventory of these skills and find out how they are being incorporated in your company’s culture:
We are in a time of Systems Change and while that might be scary, there is one common denominator that works across all platforms in business – Communication is the key to Change. Men and women have different styles of communication. While men have a “reporting” style which focuses on facts, details and data, women have more of a “rapport” style that focuses on relationship-building. Many women don’t feel able to easily speak up or voice their concerns because there hasn’t been active listening of women’s voices incorporated into the masculine business models in the past.
Consider this real timeframe of change for a moment – Currently it has been said that we are 100 years away from obtaining gender equality. One area that can create the fastest shift in gender bias in the workplace is through communication and it doesn’t just lessen the gender gap, it is also responsible for serving clients at the highest degree, building and maintaining trust and while continually gathering feedback on what your company could be doing better. Are you inviting women’s voices to be part of your work culture for the enrichment of better business practices?
Try calling a meeting of the minds with the women in your business and have a round-table discussion about the environment or culture of the company and ask the women how they see the business is going and what improvements can be made to enrich the business. Their suggestions may include social gatherings that appeal to both men and women, not just golf. They may recommend changes to actual spaces inside of a building, office or even actual aesthetics or offer training that focus on emotional and mental well-being. Sky’s the limit and each business will have a different version of what it looks like to have women’s contributions to the work culture.
Keep in mind, all the changes can be simple tweaks that make a huge difference in productivity and overall business morale! Who doesn’t want happier, healthier, self-motivated employees?
Much of what has been shared here is happening in the design industry and within family owned businesses which I will highlight in another writing piece but for now I will leave you with this thought – “When you educate a man, you educate an individual, when you educate a woman, you educate a generation.” – African proverb
When we continue to focus on education that includes all voices and real-life, simplistic applications, where relationship-building is at the forefront, we will experience the change we seek and stay ahead of the curve in our changing world. Let’s do our part to be the change and see what this type of well-rounded leadership does for business, companies and future generations.