Editor’s Note: This blog was written and submitted by Vision 2020 Missouri Delegate Rebecca Richardson.
How many of us have gone car shopping – and have the salesman ask us what color of car are we looking for? Behind that annoying and patronizing question is a stark reality.
Since, it’s commonly acknowledged that women make about 85% of the purchasing decisions in this country, the salesman (or sales woman) knows that if you aren’t happy with the color – or make and model — there will be no sale.
During my tenure as a Vision 2020 delegate, I’ve been amazed that across so many fields, women are stuck at around 20% of leadership positions. As an architect, I’ve experienced working in a field that is still dominated by men. Of registered architects in the United States, women are still only about 16%.
I did well in the corporate world, but I was looking for a smaller work environment where I could have more creative control and call my own shots. Like many other women in a variety of fields, I took the risk and went out on my own.
American Express has an interesting study, State of Women Owned Businesses Report,* issued in March 2012. “As of 2012, it is estimated that there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.7 million people…” They state that the number of women owned businesses has increased at about one and a half times the national average. While the report documents overall growth, women owned businesses are still underperforming in terms of revenue.
While most governmental entities have formal programs for promoting minority or women’s businesses, often the process of certification is time consuming, and gaining governmental contracts difficult. But what if women focused our 85% purchasing power to help other women in business?
Think about what purchasing decisions you have made for your household, your business, and your non-profit organizations. In the last year I’ve purchased appliances, lots of building materials, graphic design, engineering services, printing, accounting, legal services, web services, computers, clothing, gifts, catering, automobile repair, facility rental, and lots of groceries – just to mention a few things off the top of my head.
My project for Vision 2020 includes creating an online directory of women-owned businesses in Missouri and encouraging women to “shop women first.” If you want women to prosper economically, one of the most effective things you can do is to make a conscious decision to direct your personal spending to women in your community. Make a point of recommending women-owned businesses when you are part of your company’s purchasing decisions. Bring up purchasing from women at your nonprofit board meetings.
And when you are happy with the products or services you’ve received, go wild. Tell your friends. Post your great experience on Facebook. Go to LinkedIn and make a recommendation. Tweet about it! You can be part of the success of the whole community of women in business.
*Read the complete American Express report at: https://c401345.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/pdf/State_of_Women-Owned_Businesses-Report_FINAL.pdf