The Golden Age for women entrepreneurs has started. The stars have adjusted to help trigger the trend as strong ecosystems produce ambitious females outfitted with inspiration, know-how and funding. As of late, the number of women entrepreneurs has been growing at twice the rate of their male counterparts.
Then again, although this growth is at a furious rate, the speed at which opportunities open up to allow women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses is standing still. Most demonstrably, high-growth women entrepreneurs are thwarted in gaining access to and raising the capital they need to grow.
I've seen numerous VCs discounting or under-valuing businesses started by women because the VCs second-guess the women’s commitment to their businesses.
The Math - What VCs Need to Know About the Impact of Women Entrepreneurs:
Women start companies with almost half of the capital than males. Female-founded companies are drastically less likely to raise equity financing from angels and VCs than male-founded companies: 3.6% vs 14.4%
Women have leadership skills and the abilities required to build and scale businesses. While the number is still a blip-sized fraction – of 171,842 women-owned businesses that generate $1M or more in revenue, the growth rate is 5x that of male entrepreneurs.
In the interim, some think about whether the tech culture problem may require a less numbers-solution. The impact of putting too much value on data dangers trivializing women's personal experiences. If Microsoft one day releases tech diversity data that showed gender parity in its enrollment, a woman who voices discontent with its culture may be viewed as wanting too much.
Meanwhile, setting measured human resources targets may start to shift the gender proportion at tech companies, but that won't address the fundamental problems that make tech culture and executive boardrooms so unwelcoming to women.
Open commitments to change the tech world's culture, using computable targets, could be the path towards more diversity.
As of late, the World Economic Forum anticipated that the worldwide gender pay gap, at the rate we are going, won't be met until 2186.
For representation on boards it's somewhat better, however when over a century is your timeline, that is a low hurdle to clear. On a comparative note, a research firm that focusses on board recruitment, anticipated for the current year that the board of directors for 3,000 largest companies in the United States would be split 50/50 men and women by 2055.
My Advice to VCs
- Take the time to investigate women-founded companies.
- Invest in women entrepreneurs. Be a mentor to these women. Give them constructive feedback.
- Help them navigate through the initial challenges of raising capital so they can break-through the gender biases at first pitch.
My Advice to Women Tech Entrepreneurs
- Reach out to women who are entrepreneurs.
- Before you go out and raise capital, reach out to VCs for mentorship not money.
- Be bold, be brave – you are going to have to make twice the impact and twice the noise to be heard.
My Advice to all CEOs
- It’s not enough to have women entrepreneurs. We need more women in leadership positions.
- Identify women who have the passion and interest to grow and groom them for leadership - give them guidance and help instill confidence.
Women-at-Work in Tech Companies
- Create a roadmap for yourself and work towards it.
- Communicate opportunities for your growth to your management.
Change is coming, but it requires all of us to do our part.