Did you know that out of the entire entrepreneurs across the globe, 1/3rd are highly efficient women? Have these women faced a smooth road in their journey to the top leadership? The statistics of women leadership tell only a part of the story. Behind each woman entrepreneur, there has been a road of obstacles unknown to the world.
Collateral requirements, property rights, discriminatory customs, gender bias etc are just some of the major hurdles a woman has to cross to reach the top. Despite such uphill battles, these self-made women have shown the world that they too can rise above and attain greater heights.
Today let’s speak about some facts and the major challenges women in senior leadership positions have to face even in the 21st century.
Table of Contents
Major Challenges Faced By Women Entrepreneurs
We have shortlisted some of the most significant barriers that women have to face as entrepreneurs or business owners. These are just the tip of an iceberg, however, if acted upon appropriately, women can overcome many difficulties and progress ahead.
Shortage Of Finance
Though common knowledge, it’s highly shocking to realise that women entrepreneurs often find it hard to progress as per their plans due to a severe shortage of finance in their business transactions. Finance is the lifeline of business enterprises, regardless of size. Why is it that women entrepreneurs fall short of finance to roll around? The prime reason is due to societal norms, most women do not have a property that they can use as collateral for securing required funds.
External sources, including banks, have a tendency to see women as less creditworthy with a false belief that women can leave their business entrepreneurship at any time. This being the current situation, most of the time, women have to rely on their personal income sources to take their business forward.
It is also a fact that women do not come forward as much as men do to ask for external finance funding. If this mindset changes, there will be a far better chance of them getting more assistance.
The Pressure Of Social Expectations
Though it is the 21st century, women leaders still face the pressure of social expectations. Society has set certain standards of behavioural patterns that women are expected to follow at all times. They have been stereotyped as figures who have to stay home to focus on the family.
Venturing out to let their careers take wings is frowned upon, let alone being ambitious to be a leader of a business establishment. Due to preconceived notions like these, the public also hesitates to put their faith in women leaders. They fail to give the deserved respect or recognition to women entrepreneurs.
Shortage Of Raw Material
The downfall of many businesses today is the unavailability of raw materials. Women entrepreneurs find it a notch harder to avail raw materials as most suppliers are willing to place their trust in female counterparts only after they attain established reputations as business owners.
Maintaining a strong business sense in financial decisions and marketing strategies require a high level of focus. The intense competition in both these sectors -Finance and marketing has shown to be a factor that challenges the female entrepreneurs as they face comparatively more crisis in organising funds required. Though they are highly competent, the business world shows discrimination based on gender.
Many enterprises led by women have faced the threat of liquidation due to the stiff competition in the industry.
Due to personal and family responsibilities, women find it more difficult to move around as their business requires. They have to manage their responsibilities at home as well as the workplace and arrange suitable substitutes to take their place. The hassles of arranging and organising duties and at the same time getting support from friends and family is not as easy as it looks. Especially when business travels become frequent.
Women face criticism more than men when they decide to make traveling part of their professional life. Hence one major setback women leaders face is scheduling their business trips and meetings away from home. Moreover, some sections of society still look down upon women traveling alone and staying in unfamiliar accommodation.
Building a business establishment from scratch requires intense attention and complete dedication. This may require women putting in extra hours at work and focussing on work even after business hours. How much support they get from family members is a largely decisive factor towards their success.
It’s not just a matter of initial months, this dedication and commitment should be carried over the entire span which may cause disturbances in work-life balance. Family ties are likely to be affected due to her non-availability for family matters.
Staying Updated On Market Trends
When a business prospers, the owner, regardless of being male or female, has to move faster than lightning to stay updated on the latest market trends, analytics of business and other technical aspects. With the boom in technology and the inception of several apps, keeping up with all of them is time-consuming.
Women leaders need to invest time in updating their knowledge of the market they are dealing with.
Staying Motivated With Positive Thinking
Keeping motivated and positive despite the hurdles is a huge effort. Personal growth as a business owner is intentional and never by accident. The drive to continue what has been started tends to fizzle out with time.
When faced with numerous challenges and there is no light ahead, it is easy to get distracted and unmotivated. This can be stated as one of the biggest challenges faced by female business entrepreneurs. And this is where they must remember to keep a determined mind to move ahead and achieve what the world thinks they can’t.
Requires Strong Risk-Bearing Skills
Getting out of a comfort zone, breaking barriers of leading a protected life and focussing solely on running an enterprise is an essential requisite a women entrepreneur should develop. Enhancing Risk bearing skills and the courage to see business plans through the need to be developed upon intent. The tendency to play safe and walk-through known territory is not going to take a business far.
Women entrepreneurs will succeed at higher rates once they start taking risks and place their footsteps to unknown territories to expand their business establishment.
Building Business Networks For Farther Market Reach
Having a wide business network is essential to develop cordial relations between other industrialists as well as to have a further market reach. Women entrepreneurs have to give their business enterprises more exposure by appearing more on social media platforms and widening their marketing potentials. Male counterparts find it easier to establish connections with the unfamiliar.
Women tend to be more cautious when connecting with people. Though they have safety concerns, a thorough businesswoman needs to come out of their protective zone and be more confident of their professional capabilities.
Challenges At A Glance
- Inadequate infrastructure
- Shortage of technical facilities
- Higher cost of production and distribution
- Social attitude and stigma
- Low need for achievement when comparing family responsibilities
- Guilty feelings when personal situations call for attention
- Socioeconomic constraints
- Gender bias
- Lack of confidence
Sheroes Of Today
Although women leadership prevails in only 21 countries globally, they are the superpowers behind the best-proven response plans that were implemented during this pandemic.
Understanding The Ripple Effect
The Ripple effect is an interesting prospect to consider when it comes to analyzing the influence of women in power. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund explains the concept in her motivating speech on The 3 L’s of women’s empowerment. She describes the three Ls as learning, labour and leadership. Her words reveal the benefits behind creating and moulding a woman entrepreneur:
“There is an African adage that goes: “If you educate a boy, you train a man. If you educate a girl, you train a village.” This is not only true, it is measurable. For example, women are more likely to spend their resources on health and education, investing up to 90 percent of their earnings in this way compared with just 30-40 percent for men. This spending creates a powerful ripple effect throughout society and across generations.”
Many studies have shown that investing in empowering women yields several benefits for not only a single-family or business. This creates ripples of waves of potential growth for the whole community. Women entrepreneurship leads to huge investments that have the potential to increase the global GDP percentage.
Benefits When Women Are On Board
Supporting women entrepreneurs and narrowing leadership gender gaps pays off when considering the benefits reaped. According to IMF reports, there are several benefits when women representatives take up board positions. The prevalent advantages include:
- Women bring diverse views to discussions focussed on solving critical global threats like climate
- change, green methods of sustainability etc
- Developing innovative solutions to issues of importance like inequality. Social inclusion.
- Attaining higher capital buffers.
- Lowering nonperforming loans.
- Showing greater resistance and patience when dealing with financial stress.
- Implementing unconventional methods to increase organizational excellence.
- Enhancing institutional performance effectively.
- Higher rates of accountability.
- Upholding values and cultivating a sense of belonging.
- Women entrepreneurs believe in resolving issues peacefully with social benefits in mind.
- Companies with female board members see a return on equity around 10.1% annually compared to the 7.4% from those companies where no female representative is present.
Did you know
All four finalists of the renowned Global Citizen Prize for World Leader are women this year.
The Time Has Come To Reconsider
Does the business world need to reconsider its role in helping women overcome challenges? The business world has a corporate responsibility to support women entrepreneurs and help them overcome the challenges they face. The role society plays in moulding women leaders cannot be taken lightly. This requires a certain level of commitment and a broader perspective from all sectors involved. Creating and including more female candidates for multiple roles, gender-inclusive recruitment procedures have to become a globally accepted standard.
The Ripple effect proves that there is a positive association between the role a woman leader plays in the organisation and corporate returns on business assets. Government initiatives to promote women’s entrepreneurship will surely be a great encouragement for their empowerment.
Facts Deserving Immediate Attention
- No matter how far the world has progressed, gender inequality prevails in almost all sectors.
- There are lower numbers of female representation in top management positions.
- Women are generally overrepresented in the informal working sector and underrepresented in top management positions.
- There is severe inequality of opportunities in areas related to financial services, health, education etc.
- Women labour force numbers are way lower than males.
- Female participation in the global labour force is 25% less than men even though women make up around 40% of the total workforce in the world.
- Gender wage inequalities are between 10 -20% in most OECD regions.
- Almost all countries still practice gender-based legal regulations.
Promising Highlights Of This Decade
- Recently female-driven companies have proved their worth in not only the fashion industry but also male-dominated industries like biopharma, real-estate, finance, Information technology and so forth.
- More women are coming to the forefront of business establishments, although they face tough competition.
- In the past decades, one in a thousand innovative women like Estée Lauder made a mark as business leaders, however, this decade sees an upsurge of women innovators.
Do you know
252 million women entrepreneurs are there all over the world and around 153 million females play important roles in operating reputed businesses.
Meet Some Self-Made Women Who Have Made Us Proud
- Gina Rinehart- Owner of the Hancock Prospecting Group (a mining company). Worth $16.5 billion.
- Zhang Xin – Co-founder of SOHO China (real-estate), known as “the woman who built Beijing, worth a 3.5 billion fortune.
- Janice Bryant Howroyd -Founder of ActOne Group, a Workforce Management Firm. Worth over $1 billion annual revenue.
- Oprah Winfrey -Media personality, co-founder of Oxygen Media, CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Worth $2.6 billion as per Forbes.
- Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields- Co-founders of skincare company-Rodan + Fields Worth $ 800 million each.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most powerful female in the world. She has been voted the same for 9 consecutive years and in total 14 times.
Roadblocks To Unleashing True Potential
Women are often blocked by unwanted social stigma from bringing out their true potential and are also sadly denied equal chances to show their worth. Although they make up 50% of the world’s total population, their contribution to the global economy is less than 50%. This adversely affects the per-capita income of a country when statistics are considered.
When given an equal opportunity, a woman entrepreneur’s contribution cannot be ignored. Women are more interpersonal in their decision-making approach and men make task-oriented decisions. Because of the diverse perspectives in which women leaders evaluate a situation or problem, they are more likely to bring out innovative methods to get an appropriate solution that also addresses the related financial issues of the business.
Although they have proved themselves time and again, there are still numerous roadblocks they have to overcome, the main one being gender
stereotypes. Unequal share of domestic burdens which has increased due to the
pandemic and work from home situations, the huge gender gap in pay scales,
unequal opportunities during promotion etc are just some of the other
roadblocks in the path to success.
Together with all these, the mental strain and stress women experience as they try to balance various aspects in their life often turn them into their own harshest critics. This is a dangerous situation as it adds to their hesitation to step forward and embrace the leadership opportunities they deserve.
Statistics On Sheroes In Business
Despite all the odds standing in their career paths, women entrepreneurs have managed to define their business potential and rise to well-deserved fame. Taking a look at the statistics of women business owners all over the world, we can see some positive and increasing trends in successful ventures
Here are some of the figures of 2020, that will help the public understand the worth of She – Business leaders.
- Of all small businesses in the world, 36% are owned by women.
- Women-led business enterprises generated over 1.9 trillion dollars as revenue.
- The growth rate of women-led businesses is currently at 5%.
- The average loan size women receive is $39,000 in comparison to men who receive $44,000.
- Women entrepreneurs are better at crowd fundraisers than men with a success rate for women 69.5%, while men got a success rate of 61.4%.
- Women represent only 13% of businesses in high-tech manufacturing industries.
- More than 26% of women business owners have stress-related issues about sales growth, yearly.
- Nearly 350 Women-led business enterprises proved that women are more reliable and investors trust them more than men.
- 56% of global start-ups have at least one woman board member.
- 28% of the start-ups have women founders.
- 10% of healthcare-related new ventures have female leaders.
- A minimum of 25% of female entrepreneurs seeks financial aid.
- Around 22% of women business owners look for financial assistance when a new product is being launched.
- Since 2018, £2.8bn has been raised as equity finance by women-led Green-tech businesses.
Meaningful Quotes From SHE- Business Entrepreneurs
Mikela Druckman, Co-Founder and CEO of Greyparrot, said:
“Globally, we produce more than two billion tonnes of solid waste every year and only 19% of that is actually being recycled. When China decided to stop accepting waste from other nations for recycling in 2018, it created a shock to the global waste trade ecosystem. It really brought to life that there’s this huge problem that has to be solved.
“The last 18 months have demonstrated the importance of innovation, from life-saving developments in Life Sciences to technology bringing our society together. It’s incredibly important that female founders in all sectors are receiving proportional backing from investors, to ensure no opportunities are missed and the UK stays at the forefront of innovation.”
(Quotes Courtesy: https://home.barclays)
Currently, women make up only 4% of the CEO’s mentioned in Standard and Poor’s list of 500 companies. Women political leaders hold only 1/5th of the parliament seats across the world. Women make sound decisions after much thought on long-term sustainability as they tend to take lesser risks based on inclusion, consensus-building, compassion. It has been proved time and again that female leaders tend to do better jobs with a dedicated commitment that yields far more profitable returns.
It is an accepted fact that given the gender bias that exists, women entrepreneurs sometimes find their confidence waning. It’s high time to provide them with the deserved encouragement and empowerment. A change in mindset to take up their business ideas with passion and zeal and dare the world to believe in their competency will bring stunning improvements.
Let the world get on board with the idea of more women in leadership.
Author Bio: Mansi Dhorda is SEO and Content Marketing Consultant. She is well-versed in all things SEO, Content Marketing, and Branding. You can connect with her at Linkedin
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