Women Entrepreneurs: Pioneering Unique Approaches in Business

Dec 5
Despite comprising approximately half of the working-age population, women continue to be inadequately represented across various sectors, including entrepreneurship. McKinsey studies suggest that this underrepresentation could potentially result in a missed economic opportunity of over $28 trillion, limiting the global gross domestic product (GDP) to an estimated $108 trillion by 2025. These projections indicate that achieving gender parity in all labour markets could potentially elevate the GDP to around $136 trillion by 2025.

In this blog post, we explore the underrepresentation of women in entrepreneurship, the unique characteristics and leadership qualities that female entrepreneurs bring to the table, and the possible solutions to tackle this underrepresentation while highlighting the importance of diversity in driving innovation and business success.
Women’s Underrepresentation in Entrepreneurship
Most available data indicate that entrepreneurs belonging to underrepresented groups, including women, young individuals, the underemployed, and low-skilled immigrants, generally face greater challenges in establishing high-growth businesses or creating job opportunities. These challenges often stem from limitations in networking opportunities, and access to financial resources required for business expansionIn addition, women often find themselves engaging in necessity entrepreneurship. Necessity entrepreneurship typically involves sectors with lower entry barriers, focuses on providing services to local communities rather than global markets, and may offer more flexibility in terms of work hours, enabling individuals to balance their responsibilities, such as family care.

Women's underrepresentation in entrepreneurship is a stark reality, influenced by a variety of factors. However, it's crucial to recognise that this underutilisation of women's entrepreneurial potential represents a significant missed opportunity. Women bring unique qualities and perspectives to the business world, such as empathy, collaboration, and a holistic approach to problem-solving. These qualities can be invaluable in guiding businesses to success, fostering innovation, and addressing the diverse needs of today's markets. Encouraging and supporting more women in entrepreneurship not only promotes gender equity but also stands to enrich the entrepreneurial landscape with fresh ideas and approaches, ultimately benefiting the entire economy.

Women’s Characteristics in Entrepreneurship
Friendliness, Forthrightness and Sincerity
Prominent disparities emerge among female entrepreneurs compared to their male counterparts concerning feminine gender role attributes such as forthrightness, sincerity, and friendliness. Within the framework of gender role orientation, friendliness is characterised by qualities like considerateness, understanding, and peacefulness, which play a pivotal role in fostering positive interpersonal relationships.

Within entrepreneurship, these attributes translate into valuable advantages such as effective networking, the ability to cultivate strong customer relationships, fostering collaborative teamwork, skilled conflict resolution, gaining market insights through open communication, and successful negotiation. Female entrepreneurs who embrace these attributes can leverage them to enhance their business success by creating a positive and productive business environment that supports growth and innovation.

Friendliness and Initial Search Stage
When investigating the correlation between gender role characteristics and entrepreneurial self-efficacy across various entrepreneurial phases, it became evident that the feminine quality of being friendly exerts a positive influence on entrepreneurial self-efficacy for female entrepreneurs, particularly during the initial search stage of business planning, testing and market research. These qualities are especially vital for gathering information and identifying opportunities throughout the entrepreneurial journey, emphasising their significance for female entrepreneurs.

Collaborative and Participative Leadership
Women entrepreneurs tend to lead in a participative and democratic manner. They value input from their employees, involve them in decision-making, and seek to empower their subordinates. Women leaders tap into the collective wisdom and creativity of their teams, fostering innovation and problem-solving. Empowering subordinates not only enhances their sense of ownership and commitment but also frees up the entrepreneur's time for strategic tasks, ultimately increasing overall productivity. Moreover, this approach builds a culture of trust and collaboration, leading to higher employee satisfaction and retention, which can be especially valuable for start-ups and small businesses looking to thrive in competitive markets.

Investment in Employee Growth
Female leaders are shown to invest time and energy in nurturing and developing their employees. They believe in increasing the competence of their staff and take satisfaction in contributing to their growth and development. By investing time and energy into enhancing the competence of their staff, these leaders cultivate a skilled and motivated workforce. This not only improves the overall performance of the business but also enables employees to take on more responsibilities and work autonomously, allowing the entrepreneur to focus on strategic initiatives.

Focus on Achieving Personal Growth
Women entrepreneurs often define professional growth in terms of the growth of others, such as their employees and clients. They see their own success as intertwined with the success of their businesses and prioritise self-fulfilment as a measure of success. By aligning their success with the success of their businesses and stakeholders, these leaders create a holistic approach to entrepreneurship that fosters long-term sustainability. Prioritising self-fulfilment as a measure of success promotes a more balanced and fulfilling entrepreneurial journey, reducing the risk of burnout, and enhancing overall well-being.

Open Communication and Team Building
Female leaders encourage open communication within their organisations, which helps identify problems and fosters a team-enhancing culture. They believe in nurturing, supporting, and empowering subordinates, contributing to a more open and empowering work environment. This proactive approach enhances overall operational efficiency and minimises disruptions. Moreover, nurturing, supporting, and empowering subordinates not only boosts employee morale but also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the organisation's goals.

Relational Approach with Clients
Women entrepreneurs also adopt a relational approach when working with clients. This indicates that they prefer building strong client relationships based on trust and personal connections. Such strong client relationships can lead to repeat business, referrals, and long-term partnerships, which are crucial for entrepreneurial success.

Three Inspiring Female Leaders: 
Mary Barra
Mary Barra's approachability and friendly demeanor have helped her connect with employees and create an inclusive environment at General Motors. She is known for engaging with employees at all levels, encouraging open dialogue, and making herself accessible to team members. Barra values input from her team and encourages collaboration within the organization. She has implemented cross-functional teams to address challenges and foster innovation, reflecting her commitment to participative leadership.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah has mentored and supported many individuals throughout her career, emphasizing personal development and empowerment. She has provided opportunities for her employees to grow and excel, aligning with the characteristic of investing in employee growth. Her approach to leadership centers on personal growth, both for herself and those she influences. She sees her success as intertwined with the growth of others, exemplifying a holistic approach to entrepreneurship.

Indra Nooyi
Nooyi's leadership is marked by her encouragement of employee input and involvement in decision-making processes. She values diverse perspectives and seeks to empower her subordinates, fostering a collaborative work environment. She Nooyi has championed employee development and diversity and inclusion initiatives at PepsiCo. Her commitment to nurturing and developing her employees aligns with the characteristic of investing in employee growth. Nooyi has emphasized open communication within the organization, helping to identify problems and foster a culture of trust and collaboration. Her proactive approach to communication and team building enhances operational efficiency and employee commitment.

Systemic Changes
To harness the benefits of diversity in entrepreneurship, systemic changes are needed, such as equitable access to funding, mentorship programs, and initiatives supporting underrepresented groups, ultimately fostering an inclusive ecosystem that drives innovation and economic growth. Here are our suggestions:

Equal Access to Funding
Implementation and enforcement of policies that ensure equitable access to funding for all entrepreneurs, through initiatives like government-backed loans, grants, or tax incentives for businesses with diverse leadership.

Mentorship and Training Programs
Establishment of mentorship and training programs specifically designed to support underrepresented entrepreneurs, providing guidance, resources, and networks necessary for business success.

Diverse Investment Initiatives
Encouragement of venture capital firms and angel investors to diversify their portfolios by setting targets or offering incentives for investing in startups led by women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups.

Supplier Diversity Programs
Enforcing supplier diversity programs that require government agencies and larger corporations to allocate a portion of their procurement contracts to businesses owned by women.

Education and Outreach
Launching public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to inform underrepresented communities about entrepreneurial opportunities and available resources.

Inclusive Networking Events
Supporting the organization of networking events, conferences, and workshops that actively promote diversity, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders from various backgrounds.

Flexible Work Policies
Advocating for flexible work policies that accommodate entrepreneurs' diverse needs, such as parental leave, childcare support, and remote work options, enabling individuals to balance their entrepreneurial aspirations with family responsibilities.

It is important to raise the point that embracing diversity in leadership ensures that a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and strengths are represented, contributing to well-rounded decision-making and innovation. Just as these female leaders exemplify unique qualities and approaches that benefit their organizations, diversity in leadership, including gender diversity, enriches the entrepreneurial landscape with fresh ideas and a broader range of problem-solving strategies. It's not just a matter of equity but also a strategic advantage that can drive business success and economic growth. By recognising and harnessing the unique strengths and perspectives of all groups, we can create more inclusive, innovative, and prosperous entrepreneurial environments that benefit everyone.

Female entrepreneurs bring valuable traits to the table, including friendliness, collaborative leadership, investment in employee growth, self-fulfillment, open communication, and a relational approach with clients. These qualities lead to advantages such as effective networking, strong customer relationships, innovation, and operational efficiency, enhancing their success in entrepreneurship.

If you're interested in delving deeper into entrepreneurship we invite you to explore our blog posts at Creo Incubator.
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