We’re writing this post in honor of Women’s History Month, which takes place each March.
In case you hadn’t guessed it before, we love the startup and entrepreneurial community. We love the vision, the innovation and the inspiration it takes to pursue your dreams and start your own business.
One thing we also love is how women are changing the dynamic of the startup community. Did you know that only 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions are held by women (source)? Yet, between 1997 and 2015, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74% (source). That’s a rate that’s 1.5 times the national average. Women now own 30% of all businesses in the U.S. That 30% market share equates to 9.4 million firms, which are adding an estimated 340,000 jobs to our economy.
And we’re just getting started. According to the founder of Women Entrepreneurship Day, women-owned businesses are set to increase by 90 percent in the next five years. “We need to change the status quo because lifting women creates economic opportunity and vitality, locally and globally” (source).
Now we know we just threw a lot of numbers at you. Can you blame us? Just look at what we do for a living! But in reality, these numbers illustrate a larger principle. Our companies are better when we incorporate diversity and openness at all levels of an organization. This openness of thought allows us to share new and different ideas and learn from one another in order to be more innovative and more creative.
Here are a few things you can do to encourage diversity and openness in your organizations:
- Don’t just find the problem, find the solution. Did you know that women are underrepresented in tech jobs? Cue Girl Develop It and their fabulous Fargo team who are working to change that by creating a network of empowered women who are confident in their ability to code and build mobile and web applications. They saw a problem locally, and they are now working to fix it. When you see a problem in your organization, don’t just let it sit there. Identify the problem and work to find a constructive solution.
- Advocacy and mentorship are not the same … and you need both. Mentorship and advocacy are not the same thing. Sure, we all need mentors who help coach us along in our professional and personal journeys. But we also need advocates who can stand up for us in higher levels. These are individuals who have sway in your organization and can bring forth new ideas (think partners in a company, your board of directors, etc.). Make sure everyone in your organization has the opportunity for not only mentorship, but has an advocate on their behalf.
- Education is key. You don’t know what you don’t know. So take time to learn things. We are blessed in Fargo Moorhead with a ton of great opportunities for training and development. Take your staff to a Chamber seminar, or have them participate in 1 Million Cups or Startup Weekend. Foster an environment of learning, both with external events and internally as well. For instance you can start a women’s leadership training for young female professionals in your organization. Or, do a training course for all young professionals who are rising through the ranks of your organization and teach them key skills you think they’ll need to grow within your company.
We’re super excited to share with you that Eide Bailly will be rolling out a new initiative with the Business Women’s Circle out of Minneapolis, designed to help area women business owners find a “circle” of advisors. Stay tuned for more information … coming soon!