Why Highlighting "Women-Owned" Is Valuable And Important
JUNE 9 2021 UPDATE NOTE:
I was on an executive networking call this week during which a"women-owned" company fessed up that it was a 51% (woman) x 49% (man) split between a man and a woman so that they could claim the "woman-owned" label. Another on the call mentioned that companies will manipulate in various ways to get the woman-owned status to gain notice or contracts based on diversity requirements.
Isn't this just men taking the advantage? The exact opposite of what a "woman-owned" designation is meant to do? The same as the advantage they already have?
And, it seems to me, if the other half of your business is your husband - that isn't really going it alone as a "woman-owned" business... is it?!
Does being women-owned not infer that a company was built and/or is operated by a woman despite overcoming the adversity of not having the automatic boost of trust, earning expectation, support, and opportunity which men are often automatically afforded?
Below is my original piece of what I have faced as a woman during my career - obstacles which men do not generally face and/or do not generally make their career advancement more difficult.
May 11 2021 ORIGINAL WRITE UP:
I can't speak to other women business owners' experiences but I can share a list of some obstacles and annoyances I have faced (and still continue to face) which I would guess male business owners and leaders (and just workforce contributors... in general?) don't often deal with. Or if it does happen, perhaps they like it? I don't know. But I know I don't like being objectified or dismissed, in general, and especially not in a business context!
Over the course of my nearly 30 years in the media & communications business, these things have happened, sometimes as a rule or with regularity:
Lower Rates expected and awarded
Distrust of my Skills or Expertise (especially in any technical realm)
Distrust of Presented Data or Information
Brush Off Of Pointed Out Errors (then fixed once a man called it out)
Solutions Dismissed without discussion
Hit On, Directly, by (even married) male clients
Hit On, Indirectly, by (even married) male clients
Hit On, in DMs, by random men who ID me from my business promos
Sexual Notions Brought Up In Conversation by male clients
Male Client negatively commenting on my fashion sense, hair, etc
Being talked over
Not given advanced opportunity after acknowledgement of high performance
Dick pics. Just kidding, this one has never happened within a work context. THANKFULLY. Just in fun, random places such as online scrabble with anonymous strangers.
When I started Lovage, I made a fake man's name email who "responded" to initial sales inquiries. Sometimes, when I would meet or speak with a potential client, man or woman, they would refer to that male name they had initially "connected with" as the boss or the owner, even though that email had no information to that effect and I had presented myself as the owner to that potential client. I let that email and "man" go once Lovage was built up a bit.
At this point, Lovage has quality clientele and the above list is not generally an issue with our customer base. I'm often hired by large consulting groups to speak to investors doing research in the online space to speak to my platform expertise and opinions. Do we lose customers who don't trust a woman running a website company? Maybe. Do we want to work with those people, anyway? No. Do I have male strangers on the internet bugging me, creepily, via the pretext of business? Sure. Sometime peer dismissal of my expertise? Yes.
So, hey! Getting a little notice via the occasional "Woman-Owned Business" recognition is much appreciated.
More financial stability for women means more economic, family, and community stability overall. More equity for women means more opportunity for diverse invention and development. More normalizing of women in leadership and ownership positions means more little girls dreaming and striving big.
Shout out to all people, men and women alike, who go out of their way to support those of us who may face unique obstacles in starting and running a successful business!
- Stephanie M. Casey
Founder, Lovage Inc.
Check out these other 6 Dallas, Women-Owned Businesses!