(Photo | by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)
It is my honor to welcome you once again to the Cascade Business News Annual Celebration of Women in Business. With the wild and crazy year we have had so far, it is refreshing to have something to celebrate. And what could be more pleasurable than honoring the outstanding women, nationally and locally, who are making huge waves in businesses across the board?
Here are a few fun facts for you. Forty percent of all U.S. businesses are owned by women. That is 12.3 million women-owned businesses, which generate $1.8 trillion a year. Sixty-four percent of new women-owned businesses were started by women of color last year. Additionally, private tech companies led by women achieve a 35 percent higher ROI.
As an increasing number of well-known organizations like IBM, General Motors, Deloitte, In-N-Out Burger, AMD and Mondelēz International have appointed female CEO’s the trend towards women in leadership positions is on the rise. An all-time high of 37 of the companies on this year’s Fortune 500 are led by female CEOs. This represents a steady increase in the number of women-run Fortune 500 companies from two in 2000, to 15 in 2010 and 24 in 2015.
According to 2019 Grant Thornton’s research, a record high of 29 percent of senior management roles are held by women today. Additionally, 87 percent of businesses around the world now have at least one woman in a senior management position.
Organizational research suggests that female leaders bring a unique constellation of leadership-related traits, attributes and behaviors to the workplace that provide advantages to their organizations.
Clearly, decision-makers across the world are seeing the advantages of having women participate in or lead their teams. So, what exactly is the female advantage in business?
Primary advantages for women in business are their ability to speak their truth, be decisive, have higher levels of emotional intelligence (soft skills) and offer diverse perspectives.
Truth and Decisiveness. According to the April 13, 2020, Forbes Magazine article, “What Do Countries with the Best Coronavirus Responses Have in Common?” Women Leaders — the top seven countries that managed the early stages of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic with the fewest number of infections and deaths were led by females. Forbes attributes this success to the female leaders having the strength to speak their truth, deal with facts and be decisive.
Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a key competitive advantage for women in business. A 2016 study published by the global consulting firm Hay Group found that women outperform men in 11 of 12 key emotional intelligence competencies. These competencies included emotional self-awareness, empathy, conflict management, adaptability and teamwork — all essential skills.
Additionally, a December 8, 2018, Entrepreneur article, “4 Reasons Emotional Intelligence Gives Women an Upper Hand as Negotiators,” lists why emotional intelligence is a winning strength in female leaders. Successful negotiation requires building relationships, listening skills and being able to articulately describe scenarios and related feelings. Women are more open to and sensitive to feedback, which is crucial when working out a compromise.
Diversity. A diverse workforce is an innovative workforce. Diversity, from gender diversity to culture, age and race, has been shown to foster creativity and innovation. Men and women will inevitably have different experiences and backgrounds that shape their approach to business. Challenging each other and collaborating with people who think differently can breed creativity and promote the innovative ideas that push organizations forward.
Bringing it back to Bend and Central Oregon, I asked several local female business owners and leaders for their opinion on what skills, talents or traits women need to excel in today’s business climate. Perhaps not surprisingly responses were similar, irrespective of the variety of businesses they represent. What is most important for women to succeed in today’s business climate — intelligence, strength, grit, resiliency, adaptability, self-confidence.
Karen Bandy, owner and designer, Karen Bandy Jeweler: “She needs to be smart, creative, honest, good communication skills, follow-through, a good marketer of herself, her business, her product and needs the tenacity to juggle all that life throws at her.”
Matina Christopherson, owner, 541 Trends: “Believe in yourself and your business decisions, be resilient and receptive to new ideas at all times.”
Connie Druliner, president-CEO of Express Employment Professionals, and longtime Central Oregon business leader: “A strong woman in any leadership role should have both grit and grace to survive.”
Kelli Hewitt, president, E2 Solar, Inc.: “Recognize your resilience and persistence because they are reasons why you got to where you are today. Own your decisions, accept the outcome, be confident to admit to mistakes, take time to celebrate the successes.”
Dr. Rebecca Johnson, vice president of Oregon State University: “Intelligence, adaptability, creativity, perseverance, discipline and self-confidence to break through glass ceilings.”
Lauren Kelling, owner, Oregon Body & Bath: “Communication skills, perseverance, commitment, belief in themselves, knowing that they have what it takes to succeed.”
Julia Rickards, owner, The Open Door Wine Bar and Clearwater Gallery: “Grit, passion and perseverance. Do not define yourself by what the business world defines success as, rather by your own business principles and ideals.”
Marty Smith, owner of Ice Fine Jewelry and Gigi’s Boutique in downtown Bend: “The only thing that is for certain in life is change. Embrace change. I do!”
Joanne Sunnarborg, owner, Desperado Boutique in the Old Mill: “Put your fears aside and check your ego at the door.”
To this, I would add that to succeed in business, women need courage, confidence, vision, intuition, support and humor. Be discerning with whom you let into your world, professionally and personally. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, who are loyal to you and your passions. Practice the art of saying ‘yes’. Honor yourself in saying ‘no’ when it does not feel right.
Women in Business, celebrate yourselves and one another this month. Look for new ways to support each other as it breaks my heart to see women publicly criticize other women.
Continually look for inspiration. Be an inspiration to those around you. Celebrate your accomplishments now and into the brilliant future that you are creating.
Executive and Leadership Coach Ann Golden Eglé, MCC, has steered successful individuals to greater levels of success since 1998. Ann is President of Golden Visions & Associates, LLC, can be reached at 541-385-8887, email@example.com or GVAsuccess.com. Subscribe to Ann’s internationally acclaimed ‘Success Thoughts’ e-zine on her website.