These Women Are on the Move
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because the gender gap is real and needs to be overcome.
By Fiona Zublin
Nothing can stop the march of progress — not even 2020. Read on to learn about the trends and future paradigms driven by America’s most fascinating female CEOs and entrepreneurs, the women who are shaping the world for the next decade. They include big data mavens hoping to solve world hunger, fashionistas making Paris couture more inclusive … and a $10 billion fund for women entrepreneurs, to name a few.
how women are gearing up for success
Lending a Hand
Small businesses have a rough time in the best of climates, and that applies even more to those run by female entrepreneurs — particularly during a historic downturn like today. To try to tip the scales back a bit in favor of businesswomen, JPMorgan Chase has established a $10 billion funding commitment to help those who are struggling, explains managing director Samantha Saperstein. By carefully managing cash flow — and with a little help — small business owners stand a better chance of surviving. Still, more foundational change will be needed to ensure that female entrepreneurs get their fair share: Last year, just 2.6 percent of U.S. venture capital investment went to all-female teams.
For the first time, the U.S. will have a female vice president in Kamala Harris. Early exit polls indicated that 91 percent of Black women voted for the Biden-Harris ticket, propelling Harris into the history books. More women are expected to fill seats in Biden’s cabinet: Names floated for secretary of commerce, for example, include former DreamWorks chair Mellody Hobson and erstwhile presidential candidate Meg Whitman. Other top cabinet contenders include former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Karen Bass and Rep. Deb Haaland.
German authorities have already required that 30 percent of supervisory boards be female — and now government officials are pushing for more, with potential legislation that would require top companies to include at least one woman on executive teams of four or more people. Quotas have worked for Norway, if slowly: After it became the first country to institute boardroom gender quotas in 2008, it’s now best in Europe in terms of gender-balanced leadership at top firms. Germany doesn’t even break the top 10 … yet. Read on OZY about Germany’s only female soccer boss.
Even before COVID-19, Florida’s unemployment system was notoriously user-unfriendly, with a dated website and few receiving benefits. But that became a lot more urgent for more Americans this year, so three Sunshine State women in their 50s, Laura Tweed, Aimee Matz and Tami Bohm, banded together to form a volunteer network that’s now helped more than 50,000 Floridians troubleshoot their unemployment applications on the way to receiving the state benefits many desperately need.
the business of upheaval
The Coronavirus Gender Gap
Still, women in business have been dealt a terrible hand this year: The pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives, but women’s jobs have landed on the chopping block far more quickly than men’s. In August and September, 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce — nearly four times the number of men. And about half the women and non-binary people who called themselves “highly likely” to start a company before the pandemic have now scrapped those plans.
How Women Are Solving Inequalities
The rate of maternal mortality among Black Americans is as much as four times higher than that of their white peers, and Black women have a 40 percent higher breast cancer mortality rate. That’s not because disease discriminates according to skin color, but because systemic inequality in the U.S. is amplified in the health care system — and four Black female health care CEOs have launched a call to action, raising the alarm about the huge consequences of this discrimination and calling on all Americans to remedy it.
Should There Be Parental Leave to Gestate … a Business?
Research on Canadian women who took maternity leave found that they were more likely to start their own businesses — even while raising a newborn. Now places like Tunisia and Sweden are experimenting with giving employees time off to pursue new business ideas in a bid to boost the startup scene. It might be a tougher sell in the U.S., which is still the only developed nation with no national parental leave policy, much less an entrepreneur-nity leave policy.
How to Change Your Mine
As long as we use metals and minerals in everything from coins to smartphones, mining will be a fact of life. But it doesn’t have to be the same old mining: Two female entrepreneurs in Mexico are trying to change the sector by convincing mining operations to be certified as socially, environmentally and ethically responsible companies. If this catches on, it could go a long way toward changing the public perception of mining as a business of exploitation — both of workers and of natural resources.
Go North, Young Woman
North Dakota may not seem like the most hospitable terrain — but for women-owned businesses, it is. Towns like Williston, North Dakota, were once dominated by the super-macho oil industry, but through targeted support this community grew its number of female-led businesses from three to 58 in just three years. That’s not just good for women in business, but for the small community itself: Female-owned small businesses like health food stores and art shops have helped keep Williston’s money circulating in the local economy instead of getting vacuumed up by big outside companies.
businesswomen to know
Cash Her if You Can
Investment expert Afsaneh Beschloss reached the upper echelon at the World Bank and JPMorgan Chase before starting her own firm. Still, the Iranian-born dynamo said on The Carlos Watson Show that she wishes she had actually worked a little less hard. “If I had done 20 percent less, it would have been equally good,” she says. “So that extra 20 percent, that really puts a lot of stress and takes away from love and family and other things that we love doing.” But there are ways the U.S. should be working harder too, she says, with the pandemic raising the possibility that American kids out of school for months could fall behind their global peers.
Farming for Data
Numbers control everything — even the food we eat and the ways we grow it. That’s why Ethiopian-born commodities trader Sara Menker thought it was notable that agriculture didn’t have a unified data platform. So she built exactly that, headquartered in New York with an office in Nairobi. So far, Gro has raised $40 million with its pitch of uniting farmers and traders in their quest to profit by crunching the numbers. But Menker’s ambitions stretch beyond that: She sees the platform as a way to fight world hunger or climate change.
The Queen of Crypto
What happens to your bitcoin when you die? Ask Marie-Antoinette Tichler, a late-blooming cryptocurrency fanatic whose reputation as “CryptOprah” began when her grown son turned her on to the trend. When her husband died, the former Air Force recruit launched her own startup for digital asset management, to help others make sure their bitcoin is as well-secured and aboveboard as the rest of their money.
Hair, There and Everywhere
One of America’s first female millionaires, beauty mogul Annie Malone and her “Wonderful Hair Grower” aimed at Black women are nearly forgotten today. Still, she’s left a lasting legacy: Her door-to-door business model filtered down through Avon ladies, she was an early mentor of Madam C.J. Walker — and she expended much of her $14 million empire on beauty colleges and charity work in her hometown of St. Louis.
Paris Fashion Strong
Lisa Gachet’s fashion aesthetic couldn’t be less classically black-turtleneck Parisian: Her clothes are colorful and fun while her business philosophy prioritizes inclusive sizing and DIY. If you don’t want to buy the clothes she makes, you can instead stock up on patterns and make them yourself, and Gachet’s made offering classes to turn you into a better seamstress part of her business model. And yes, the dresses have pockets.