Ladies: Let’s Not Get Caught Up In The Gender Inequality Fight. | This Is Much Bigger.

Her Corner

Frederique Irwin

May 12, 2020

Over the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to discuss the results of our jointly written report, ‘How Did Women-Owned Businesses Fare in the Payroll Protection Program’ with a number of journalists, the SBA, and the Federal Reserve Bank.

And the more I discuss whether or not women were passed over, the more I realize:

WE ARE FOCUSING ON THE WRONG THING!

When we surveyed business owners across multiple communities across the U.S., our intent was not to bemoan inequality towards women and minority-owned businesses, it was to see how women’s businesses were doing - after all, we are nearly 44% of all small businesses in the US. And we wanted to use the survey results to help small women-owned businesses get access to Federal funding, if they weren’t getting it.

But somehow the message shifted and became one of inequality towards women.

Gender equality is not the goal here. Economic recovery is the goal!!

In order to achieve economic recovery, we need to stop focusing on inequality towards women and minority-owned businesses and focus on this:

All small businesses must see themselves as growth businesses.

But that is tricky - because what is a growth business?

In a call with a business owner this week she said to me: “I know my business is so inconsequential, it doesn’t really make that big a difference.”

“Stop,” I said. “Your “little” business is hiring a virtual assistant to help you with your new website functionality, your “little” business is hiring an intern this summer to help with social media, your “little” business is partnering up with an organization where you will split profits, thereby driving revenue to this partner.”

That is the very definition of economic recovery: generating revenue for others as well as for yourself, hiring others, even if they are not technically employees.

Do you know how many of the 30 million small businesses in the U.S. have no other employees other than the owner?

  • 73% of all small businesses in the U.S. are individually operated, meaning that they have no other employees other than the owner.
  • 90% of all women-owned small businesses in the U.S. are individually operated.

These businesses are critical to economic recovery! These businesses must see themselves as growth businesses and realize the impact that they bring to the communities around them, in order for our communities to recover economically.

To help businesses and people survive post-Covid-19, we must help them see themselves as growth businesses.

As we have always said, women are not sitting around bemoaning the state of affairs. Our members and business owners are hustling, innovating, and pivoting.
And on our end, we will do our part too.

We will help women see themselves as growth businesses by continuing to bring women together: in our Accelerator cohorts, virtually in private groups, in zoom sessions, over chat solutions. We will encourage collaboration and the sharing of expertise among the communities. And we will remind business owners to be brave.

Because this moment isn’t about equality or inequality. This is about choosing to see yourself as part of the solution, as a business that matters, and as a growth business - one that will help drive economic recovery in the months ahead.