Fewer Than 30 Women Founders Have Ever Taken a Company Public In 2021, Business Insider reported that "around 20" is a more likely accurate number.
In the United States, it is estimated that 6,000 companies are now publicly listed on NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges. That is down from a high of 8,000.
And the stats on women-led companies within this dwindling number are alarming. Fewer than 13% of all venture capital (VC) decision-makers are women, and less than 3% of all VC dollars flow to companies led solely by women. Other stats show that representation of women in the corporate arena where it matters is also severely lacking. This highlights a larger truth that prevents women from advancing in business: women, in particular, face many barriers to entry when it comes to raising capital and going public.
Going PublicⓇ, a new show where viewers can invest in the featured companies' deals while they watch, aims to change all of that. Out of the four companies featured PROVEN Skincare features not one but two female founders in Ming Zhao and Amy Yuan. Check out Ming and Amy's appearance, along with expert mentor, Jaime Schmidt in this episode of Going Public.
Lack of Female Representation
Lack of representation in company C-suites doesn't simply mean that individual women haven't made it to the upper echelons of one specific business – it also means they aren't in the room while other deals and connections are forged, which causes women to miss out on future career and business advancement opportunities, as well. Raising capital and taking a company through a successful IPO is one arena in which being in the room can be the most important factor in a fledgling business' success.
The lack of gender parity in business starts at the very beginning of the chain. According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center released in 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned on a median hourly basis. Based on that estimate, it would take an extra 42 days of both full- and part-time work for women to earn what men did in 2020.
A 2019 Lean In study called this the "broken rung" in the corporate ladder and it also indicated that conditions won't improve any time soon. The study found that, at the current rate, it will take until 2059 for women to achieve pay parity. It also found that for women who do reach the top, they will still hit a ceiling — they often get stuck as the Chief Operating Officers, which is to say, they are always stuck as second in command. To illustrate the point, the study cited another fact: only 7% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
Paths to Change and Female Advancement
The study also indicated that there are ways to change this disparity. Specifically, it focuses on the managerial level, which is where change and its ripple effects is most likely to happen. Women are less likely to be hired and promoted to manager, the study found — for every 100 men promoted and hired to manage, only 72 women are promoted and hired. Men hold 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38%. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level until it eventually ends up at just a small handful of women helming large, profitable companies.
Women representation in business is a multi-tentacled problem requiring many different solutions, some of which are broader and ambitious in scope, like charting social change. On a more granular and immediate level, setting quotas targeting gender disparity is one meaningful way things can begin to change. Quotas can be controversial, but supposing companies hire from within or employ highly rigorous vetting and hiring processes, it should not be a problem to fill managerial roles with more women. After all, quotas only say that women must be hired — it's up to the company doing the hiring to decide which woman is right for the job.
Access to Capital for Female Founders
Another way to change this is by getting more women founders directly in the line of flowing capital. Going Public is one way to achieve this, by providing education and investment opportunity to entrepreneurs looking to raise capital for their ventures.
PROVEN Skincare, is hoping this path will prove successful. In October, PROVEN's two founders, CEO Ming Zhao and co-founder Dr. Amy Yuan, announced the launch of its Regulation A+ equity funding campaign following the qualification of its Form 1-A Offering Circular by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
"Through this Regulation A+ offering, we are providing our community with the opportunity to become a part of the PROVEN growth story as we change skincare from its one-size-fits-all generic status quo to empathetic individuality," Zhao said in a press release. "Since launching 2 years ago, we have seen tremendous growth and customer demand for our initial product line. This Regulation A+ offering will enable us to further innovate our proprietary AI technology and scale our success across new product types, categories, channels and markets. Our goal is to build a global wellness movement based on technology and personalization."
Offerings featured on Going Public® are made in reliance on Regulation A under the Securities Act of 1933, and all such investments come with inherent risk. Investors may never be able to sell shares on a stock exchange and may have to hold them for a long period. Investors should be aware that the companies making Regulation A offerings may never become publicly-traded companies.
As for Zhao and Yuan's professional backgrounds? Zhao was the head of Partnerships at NerdWallet, a private equity investor at Bain Capital and a strategy consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. Dr. Yuan is a data scientist and an engineer. She also led data science teams at Lyra Health and McKesson, where she focused on developing data products to enable better care for people using AI.
The moral of the story: get women in managerial and decision-making roles. Supporting females in business helps to create a more diverse and equitable economy, and although investing in small startups may offer a great way to support companies you love, it's important to know that all investments are speculative and may not work out in your favor.