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This International Women’s Day is about envisioning what’s possible when the scales tip toward full gender balance: on television, in boardrooms, in government and employment across all industries. It’s about the belief that we can create #BalanceForBetter.
I believe the balance of a diverse and equal workforce creates a better working world for us all. We already know that women-owned small businesses create economic growth and jobs in their communities. Growth of these enterprises over the last 40 years has been staggering, with the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. increasing a dramatic 31 times between 1972 and 2018. Domestically, firms owned by women now employ 9.2 million people and generate $1.8 trillion in revenue.
While social networks are making women’s voices heard and helping women-led businesses thrive, there is still so much work left to do in the fight for equality. This doesn’t just mean women: It’s about achieving better representation and opportunities for people of all colors, sexual orientations, gender identities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Women-led businesses are thriving, but we have further to go
Around the world, a substantial proportion of small businesses are owned and led by women. In fact, women own four out of every 10 businesses in the U.S.
But there’s still work to do to reach 50 percent female representation among those owning and leading businesses. Thankfully, a vibrant community of women-led businesses exists and is growing and supporting each other every day.
Technology has created more economic opportunity for women
Social media has transformed the way small business owners find, reach and build relationships with their customers. Mediums like TV, print and radio can be expensive and inaccessible for many entrepreneurs, but with social media, the power to reach relevant audiences is now available online at any budget. And women are benefiting.
Across the 97 countries surveyed on our platform, social media may have an outsized effect on female small business owners. More than eight in 10 (81 percent) female entrepreneurs say social media is beneficial to their business, and across 37 countries, women say social media is helpful at higher rates than men do.
Furthermore, in most countries surveyed, women entrepreneurs cite that Facebook is helpful to their business more frequently than men.
Women mentoring and supporting other women is how we make progress
A study in partnership with the OECD and World Bank also found that more than two in three women (67 percent) state that they have a role model. Female entrepreneurs not only benefit from having role models, but they serve as role models themselves. In fact, 70 percent of female business owners and managers’ role models were other women.
For instance, Kara Handley, founder of Female Navy Officers, started a group to help the community of female Navy officers navigate the policies and rules that uniquely impact women in the Navy. She uses mentors two women who graduated from the Naval Academy, and they discuss what it’s like being a woman in the Navy, going on deployment and transferring into different career paths. When women like Kara are able to mentor and support other women, we all make progress.
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the women around the world who are lifting up other women, speaking out, turning their ideas into economic opportunities and helping create gender balance for generations to come.