August 27, 2012

Women and Business in Iowa

According to our report SHE MATTERS: 2012 Status of women and Girls in Iowa, a 2012 report by American Express tracked the overall growth and growth by industry of women-owned businesses across the country.  In the report, Iowa was listed as last in the nation in revenue growth of women-owned businesses, and second to last in the nation for increase in the number of firms and overall employment by women-owned businesses.

But the national picture is much more reassuring.  This week, I received another article prepared by American Express OPEN, 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Women-Owned Businesses, that provides benchmarks from studies of women-owned businesses in an effort to encourage more women to put their business plans into action, and to provide a more accurate picture of the business environment.

Here are the “10 things:”

1.       In the past 15 years, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 54%; there are now 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States (more than the number of people in 50% of the world’s countries).

2.      Despite owning nearly 30% of U.S. businesses, women attract only 5% of the nation’s equity capital; in first-year funding, women receive 80% less capital than men.

3.       Women-owned businesses employ 7.7 million people - 40% more people than three largest employers — McDonald’s, IBM and Wal-Mart — combined (this is a 9% increase in employment over the past 15 years).

4.      Women-owned firms generate revenues of $1.3 trillion. Over the past 15 years, women-owned businesses saw 58% increase in revenue, from $546 billion to $1.3 trillion now - more than the combined market cap of Apple, Microsoft, GE, Google and Sony.  Revenue has grown more than twice the amount of U.S. population growth during the same period of time.

5.       The industries with the fastest growth and greatest share of women-owned firms are educational services, health care and social assistance, and entertainment and recreation.

6.      In seven out of 13 of the most populous industries, women-owned firms are exceeding overall growth.

7.       The top states for women-owned businesses are Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and North Dakota; top cities are Sacramento, Riverside, San Antonio, Houston, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

8.      2% of women-owned businesses bring in more than $1 million in annual revenue, versus 5% of all firms.

9.      As they reach 5-9 employees or earn $250,000, women-owned businesses experience faltering growth.

10.   Of women-owned businesses, 5.5% used a loan to get started, compared to 10.7% overall.

As a next step in our ongoing work to address the issues reported in SHE MATTERS, Chrysalis and the Iowa Women’s Leadership Project are creating a handbook of recommendations for elected officials, communities, and individuals to use in order to take action.  The handbook will be entitled If SHE MATTERS to You, Here’s What You Can Do, and it will be printed for our distribution this fall.

August 20, 2012

INSPIRED 2012- The Excitement Builds!

We’re less than a month away from INSPIRED 2012, and are very excited about the special art piece being created by Hannah Gebhart of SPPG, our graphics and art sponsor.  Individual tickets are $35, and a table of 8 is $250.  

For more excitement, take a look at the SPPG website, where Hannah has posted a plug – and an exciting “tickler” – for the event.  Take a look at this link, and forward to your friends and guests:

Look forward to seeing you all on September 13 at INSPIRED 2012!

August 6, 2012

Gender Diversity and Corporate Performance

This week, Credit Suisse (a leading global financial services company based in Zurich, Switzerland) released research that continued to validate the “business case” for including more women in top positions of the corporate world.

“Gender Diversity and Corporate Performance” provided an array of data answering the question: does gender diversity within corporate management improve performance?  The basic answer is that, in comparing the performance of 2,360 companies, those with at least one woman on the board have outperformed stocks with no women on the board by 26 percent over the course of the last 6 years.

Most importantly, most of this difference occurred after the economic calamity of 2008, when the financial environment globally was deteriorating.  Companies with female board members were better at delivering results even in hard times.

Why do women on the board enhance the corporate performance?  The report provides 7 points that may correlate gender diversity with corporate performance:

1.       It signals a “better company”.
Research suggests that placing women on a board is a sign that the company is already doing well, rather than a signal of working to improve.

2.      Diversity of the team results in better performance.
Research from Columbia University has shown that non-diverse groups improve their own performance by broadening diversity - it leads to better average outcomes when the work group is more diverse.

3.       There is a better mix of leadership skills.
McKinsey and NASA have conducted studies on leadership skills that have proven women are specifically good at defining responsibilities clearly, supporting mentoring, and coaching employees.

4.      There is a wider talent pool.
Since 2000, the proportion of college graduates that are female has increased from 51% to 54%, which is projected to continue to increase in the future.  This provides a broad pool of talent for any hiring manager.

5.       This reflects that females are the primary consumer decision-maker.
Because women are responsible for up to 85% of household purchasing decisions, corporations demonstrate a better understanding of consumer preference.

6.      Corporate governance is improved.
                       Academic research concludes that corporations with more women on the board improve 
                       their performance related to both social and corporate governance.

7.       There is more aversion to risk.
A report issued in 2003 noted that men – particularly optimistic men – create investment volatility and cause more significant shifts in value.  For women, there is no difference in investment risk between different temperaments; women generally remain more risk averse overall.

Although there are still barriers to women in leadership (dual roles with household responsibilities, continued stereotypes, and reduced expectations by women), the numbers prove the case.

Our work to ensure girls complete an education and develop a career pathway, and to assist women to step into new and greater responsibilities as leaders, reinforces that Chrysalis “gets it.”  We know that supporting girls and women is just good business.  And good for business.