The eighth annual Global Economic Summit in Hyderabad, India opened with promising news about the rise of women entrepreneurs. While an increase from five million women-owned businesses in 1997 to eleven million in 2016 in the US is positive, is this as good as it gets? Have we set the bar too low?
Only now is the glass ceiling in business starting to crack and let in some light. We have long let women take a back seat to shaping the future of our world. While gender quality is first and foremost, there are some studied differences in the leadership that men and women bring to the table. For starters, studies show that women possess a courage unique to them, thought to be due to the many challenges they’ve overcome throughout life. Women also possess diligence, resolve and a not afraid to fail attitude toward business. These are important qualities from which business can greatly benefit.
As the father of a daughter, I encourage my daughter in her dreams and goals. Much of her empowerment comes from education. Still, she will have to fight her own fight. There was a time when young girls around the world chose from a select few occupations to grow up into. Why have we waited so long to have young girls grow up to be scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, astronauts and even President? I often ask what the world would be like today with women at the helm of half of the world’s decisions.
Of course, this starts the moment a child is born. Empowerment through education is not always possible in many parts of the world but caretaking is. Caring for the physical child must be done in conjunction with caring for the spirit. Children of both genders, but especially girls in our time, need champions and advocates from Day One. It’s not enough to see a young girl making news today for accomplishments ‘good for a girl.’ This should be the norm. We owe it to them to not wait twenty years for business to be rife with women. They need to see that they can achieve anything and not be relegated to second-hand dreams due to gender.
We must help them believe they can accomplish their dreams without question. Just as men are encouraged to go into business, we must encourage women as well. And we must let this support propel all women into a place where gender no longer is a topic of discussion.
While the increase in women-owned business has increased over the past decade, let’s not set the bar low for such an important issue. Good enough is not enough.