And finally… sharing a well-timed quote to inspire the next generation of women to launch a business means nothing if you’re not willing to engage with and tackle the reality that awaits them.
The laws of physics tell us that if you try and bridge a gap with material that lacks substance, eventually the cracks show, and that bridge – however well intentioned – will come toppling down.
And my fear is that unless we make a collective effort to start not just acknowledging but engaging with and tackling the reality of the landscape we’re operating in together, many of the businesses founded by women that have emerged over the past few years will not be here a few years down the line.
It’s 2021 and self-employed men earn 49% more than self-employed women each week. Only 22% of self-employed women invest in a pension. For every £1 that a VC invests, less than 1p goes to businesses with all-female founded teams. Self-employed men are five times more likely to build a business with £1million+ turnover…
The disparity increases for marginalised groups of women when you breakdown the notion of ‘all female business owners’ and consider the favourable circumstances white women have when compared to their BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and disabled counterparts.
Whilst I wholly appreciate that in a locked down world, the desire to gravitate towards positive news and comforting images is at an all-time high (trust me, images of golden retriever puppies are my go-to right now!) creating systemic change involves a ‘we’ not ‘me’ attitude, today and every day going forward. Therefore, it’s imperative that we don’t place the burden on one organisation, one bank, one woman to ‘fix it’ but rally behind one another and (collectively) keep chipping away.
After all, sharing a ‘She believed she could so she did…’ quote on IWD won’t do much to support the next generation of female business owners if it’s not matched with a willingness to engage with the reality that awaits them…
Though I’m well aware that some women out there don’t feel hard done by – that being a woman has never stood in your way – my ask is that you count yourself fortunate first and foremost and perhaps consider joining in the conversation on behalf of the many women that do.
Improving the maternity (and paternity) rights for the self-employed, getting more women to invest in pensions, supporting women to become more financially literate, elevating the voices of marginalised voices, increasing the funding opportunities for female founders, celebrating founders that have zero desire to scale and go global in equal measure as the founders that do – all the while ensuring that we’re not burning out and aren’t conforming to others’ expectations but following our gut instinct and pursuing our own definitions of ‘success’ – always…
Is not a ‘nice to have’ list.
It’s essential in my opinion.
And no one woman or business – no matter how many Instagram followers they have – can fix, nor be expected to fix that task alone.