WOMEN IN BUSINESS: What is it All About?

Is building a company the same as making a home for your family? Indeed, both require a lot of effort and unique skills to keep everything working well. But do women have those skills?

How do we women manage a crisis? Do we cry? Let me tell you; women are much more than a sack of tears waiting to be exploited. What matters is what we do afterwards. In my case, every time I face a situation that requires some crying, I embrace it. Usually, after 5 minutes of releasing my frustration, I can see the situation from a different perspective. Yeah, yeah, women cry a lot, so what? What do you expect? Our bodies prepare themselves every month to give birth and many hormones are involved in that process. I see it as an advantage in business as it allows us to grow our emotional intelligence, which is useful when working with others and facilitates emotional connexions with our customers.

Photo by Jopwell – Pixels

Coming back around to the first question, many assume that every woman was created with the mere intention of building a home for her children and husband. So, it is presumed that “nature” gave us all the necessary skills to make that possible. Many think it is an easy task, but it requires organisation, planning, crisis management, and, above all, financial management. The very same skills required to manage a business.

Time has changed, and nowadays, women are expected to excel not just as wives and mothers but also as workers. Our “liberation” could be felt as a backwards step because more things are demanded from us. But some women have shown us that it is possible with some planning and help. I wonder why, if we can do “everything”, it is still believed we are not good at doing business? The GEM report for 2021/22 (page 18) shows:

“Women reported an average of 20% lower confidence than men in their capabilities to start a business (54.7% vs 66.2%).”

Women face multiple barriers when starting and growing their businesses. One of them is access to finance. But are these barriers in our minds, or are they a reality? The Investing in Women Code, in its 2022 report for the UK (page 5), shows that in 2021:

“The percentage of women-led businesses or all-female founder teams seeking funding was a much lower proportion compared to male-led businesses and all-male founder teams.”

2022. Investing in Women Code

The report also shows that, on average, men applied for higher amounts of finance, and men opened 61% of new primary business bank accounts.

Women apply less for funding, and when we finally decide to apply, we apply for smaller amounts than men. The report also shows that women are less successful when applying for funding in terms of venture and growth capital (page 6):

“All-female teams seeking venture and growth capital were relatively less successful in progressing through the investment pipeline, accounting for 12% of pitch decks but just 9% of teams that received funding at the Investment Committee stage.”

2022. Investing in Women Code (page23)

In terms of approaching, according to the report, women are most likely to make contact through warm approaches and receive the least subsequent benefits. It makes me wonder, if that is a confidence issue, lack of information or not wanting to get into debt?

The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship – Progress Report 2022 (Pag 21) shows:

“In 2019, the Rose Review found that women are twice as likely as men to mention family responsibilities as a barrier to starting a business, and rates of entrepreneurialism fall sharply for women after the age of 35 compared to men. For female entrepreneurs with children, balancing family demands remains the #1 barrier to success.”

The carer’s responsibility as a barrier to women’s entrepreneurship does not just include caring for children but also elderly family members. This issue is expected to increase as the UK’s population is ageing. Could that be one of the reasons why we don’t want to ask for responsibilities in the form of credit or a business?

In terms of confidence and available information, having a supportive environment that inspires women to become entrepreneurs is necessary. The Alison Review Report mentions sponsors, mentors, and professional support networks as a complement to introducing entrepreneurship in schools, universities, and colleges to increase awareness among young women.

The GEM report mentions that female entrepreneurs tend to have lower personal savings to fund their projects. Consequently, they have a higher rate of solo entrepreneurship and run much smaller businesses, those more vulnerable to market disruptions and economic shocks. “In the United Kingdom, women have a high rate of solo enterprise with 63.2% of female entrepreneurs” (page31)

Jewellery Industry

Jewellery in post-war times meant freedom; women had to do jobs in factories and offices that were usually reserved for men. Jewellery was bought with their own disposable income. Initially, it was seen as a way to show your social status, but it has developed as an industry dedicated to understanding female preferences.

(2021, Gender Equality Report) “Women drive demand for more than 90 per cent of the world’s jewellery and make up, a large portion of the industry’s value chain” (Page 15).

The rising of small local and national brands has been terrific in motivating more women entrepreneurs into the industry. (2021, Gender Equality Report) “The role of women in the jewellery industry is changing across corporates, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and family-owned organisations. For example, there are increasingly more women in roles such as cutting, merchandising and production, previously male held jobs and functions, and more female graduates emerging to enter the industry in new roles”. (Page 21)

(2021, Gender Equality Report) Technological changes as laser-based techniques for processing, decoration, and fitting and computer-aided design for modelling and prototype development are being implemented across the industry. These technologies are shifting the skill requirements (of traditional and artisanal methods in cutting and polishing), creating an added challenge to advancing gender equality in the industry. (Page 13)

In my opinion

It’s all about freedom to choose your path in life. Suppose you prefer to be a mother and dedicate your life to your family or build a career and have a home with no kids. Or maybe you want both! It is about having control of your own life and having sufficient information to help you decide.

It is about having the necessary tools to succeed in your chosen path.

Notes:

Investing in Women Code : an initiative recommended by the UK government-commissioned Rose Review, led by NatWest CEO Alison Rose, into how best to boost female entrepreneurship.

References

(2021) GEM- Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Women’s Entrepreneurship 2020/21 – Thriving through Crisis. Link: [https://www.gemconsortium.org/reports/womens-entrepreneurship ]

(2022) Investing in Women Code. Annual Report 2022. Link: [https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/investing-in-women-code-annual-report-2022.pdf]

(2022) The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship. Progress Report 2022. Link: [https://media.graphassets.com/bJ4GeuqbRBfiOfXSzsdt ]

(2021) Responsible Jewellery Council. Gender Equality Report. Link:  [https://responsiblejewellery.com/wp-content/uploads/RJC-Gender-Equality-Report-2021-Sep.pdf]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s