According to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN, women are starting businesses at a rate that outpaces that of 3 years ago by more than double. And, over the last 17 years, it has increased at 1.5 times the national average according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The numbers are staggering. Women entrepreneurs are certainly influencing the economy with $1.4 trillion in revenue, employing 7.9 million people and accounting for 30% of all enterprises, with women-owned businesses numbering more than 9.1 million in 2014. Being second only to publicly traded companies in job growth since the recession began in 2007, demonstrates that this is a powerful emerging force in the economy.
There are tremendous opportunities for women-owned businesses to compete for Federal contracts. Quotas have to be met. One in three firms is now owned by women of color (African American, Latina, Asian American, and Native American), an increase from one in six in 1997. This is THE fastest growing segment of women-owned business. Women owned firms are starting and growing businesses in all industries, venturing into non-traditional sectors for women including construction and transportation.
With changes and shifts in the business environment, internal organizational structures are changing as well. There is also a measurable changing consumer dynamic.
Since 2008 70% of the new entrants into the workforce have been women and minorities. With this change, organizations need to develop a clearly defined strategy or vision for developing women leaders. Most firms don’t make it a conscious or a strategic priority. Some may still resist it while some take a passive stance assuming it will just happen in the natural course of events. What is required and what business leaders should make their priority is a focused and proactive strategic plan that supports women already on a leadership path which also attracts and encourages more women towards business leadership.
The economy is also changing rapidly. It used to be that only men bought cars. Now more women are buying cars than men. It’s a shift and it is being felt everywhere. Ford introduced a car that is geared to solving the problems of women – one can now wave one’s foot under trunk to open it. It’s proof that engineering is keeping up with women as consumers and their importance in society – the changing paradigm. Organizations need to get ahead of that and focus on that. Businesses need to learn to focus on who their consumer is. The face of business is changing.
We have arrived!
–Tracy L. Badgley, Partner,CPA, CGMA, CDFA™