Thursday, August 07, 2008
|I recently had the pleasure of answering a few questions posed by anchors Pete Weitzner and Shally Zomorodi on KDOC-TV’s "Daybreak OC" morning news program. They were interested in the effect of our current economy on women-owned businesses. Although I hope I answered in some meaningful fashion, this subject merits more than a few sound bites. And more than a blog, too – so next I’ll write a paper, and then publish a book, followed by a speaking tour, and an honorary degree . . .
Sorry; you caught me dreaming. The point is that this is a darn stimulating issue, and I find myself thinking about it a lot. In a nutshell, women generally face the same issues as men in this economy, but with some subtle but important distinctions. Take access to capital: it’s daunting for all of us - it stifles innovation and delays otherwise promising start-ups. This phenomenon is particularly harmful to women, because they start-up businesses at twice the rate that men do. And then there are the societal implications of reduced family income. Because women still carry the largest share of homemaking, child and elder care responsibilities, they suffer the effects on a multi-dimensional scale.
It’s not all gloom and doom, though. We can take advantage of certain feminine traits to keep our businesses and families afloat. Like using our strengths as consensus builders to strike innovative strategic alliances. Or taking advantage of the availability of human capital to bolster our ranks. And, using our capacity for empathy and adaptability to shape important economic trends and policy. As I told the KDOC-TV audience, a “perfect storm” for change is brewing: the economic downturn; the most compelling election we’ve had in decades; intense globalization; entry of the “millenials” into the workforce – all in and of themselves, strong catalysts for change.
What a remarkable opportunity to demonstrate what some call “womenomics”. The relics of the perfect storm will likely move us closer to gender equality, closer to an accommodation in the workforce for parenthood, closer to health care reform, closer to fair and equitable financial markets, and closer to fair and ethical business practices. A rallying cry for women to pay attention, be informed and get involved if I’ve ever heard one!
In this country’s last recession, women-owned businesses outpaced the economy as a whole. This time around, maybe we’ll also jump-start it.