Women run businesses are growing around the world. As more women join the workforce and feel empowered, they are making the foray into entrepreneurship and making their way into leadership positions. Hopefully, soon we won’t be able to count the number of big-time women leaders on our fingertips, and the ratio of businesses that are run by men and women will be fifty-fifty.
However, we still have a long way to go, especially in India, where only 14 percent of all businesses are run by women according to the Sixth Economic Census. Women run 8.05 million businesses in India and employ around 13.48 million people.
So how can we get there faster?
1. Increase Female Mentors and Role Models.
The more women see others of their gender breaking boundaries and leading companies, the more they will feel inspired to do so. They will start seeing themselves as leaders, and as capable individuals who can lead a team. Cultivating mentoring programs in companies, and for adolescent girls can go a long way in developing leadership skills.
Ameera Shah, Managing Director of Metropolis Labs, told SheThePeople.TV that entrepreneurship, like motherhood, is a lonely journey.
“When established women entrepreneurs share their experiences, new entrepreneurs understand that their challenges are not theirs alone. That support furthers the belief in themselves and their purpose.”
2. Make it easier for women to get funding.
In a survey conducted by SheThePeople.TV, women entrepreneurs said that one of the biggest challenges they faced was in getting funding. It’s only women that are subject to questions like “what will happen to the business when you get married?” or “how will you handle the business and family. More funds that focus on women and that have women leaders could help with this problem. Male investors often look for what has worked before and invest in similar companies. More awareness about new kinds of women run businesses could help women get funding.
3. Break away from stereotypes and cultural conditioning.
Many women don’t see themselves as breadwinners or as chief executives. And the problem doesn’t lie just with women, but with men who don’t take them seriously as well. Women often have to work double just to prove themselves as capable and efficient. Women also shy away from negotiating and this leads them to losing out on key opportunities. Men and women need to break away from the stereotypes that contain them.
4. Talk about work life balance.
Many women take the back seat after they have children, simply because of the lack of adequate infrastructure. Companies need to start taking seriously the issues of maternal and paternal leave. Companies need to institute flexi-work hour policies and have policies that will help women transition back into work after leave.
Kripa Krishnamoorthy, Head HR of Citibank, said that there is a business case for hiring more women. She said the company has taken a lot of initiatives at all levels of management to ensure that women returning from maternity leave and sabbaticals are at par with other employees. One of the ways they do this is to rate women returning to work on their previous work cycle.
Also Read: Why We Need Stories of Women Entrepreneurs