It wasn’t until 1988 that Congress passed the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which eliminated the law requiring a “male relative” to be a co-signer on business and loan documents. A male co-signer can be anyone from a husband to an uncle to a son. This prevents women from starting their own businesses. 1988 wasn’t that long ago. Untangling the layers of the past takes time. In three decades, the number of women-owned businesses has increased from 4.1 million to 12.3 million, making four in 10 businesses in the United States owned by women. Most women-owned businesses are small businesses, and women still face many internal and external obstacles.
Business veteran Kym Gold co-founded True Religion Jeans in 2002 and in 2020 launched her latest business, Style Union Home. She has been in the industry for more than thirty years and has undergone major changes. “Wow, women in business have changed dramatically in the time I’ve been in business. Early in my career, I faced all kinds of discrimination. As the owner, designer and major shareholder of True Religion, I was underappreciated and underappreciated. My ideas were often dismissed or overruled by an all-white male board. Worse, there were multiple murmured comments from men “Is she on her period? ” It’s unbelievable that it happened. Since then, board members have apologized, which shows that we have come a long way. I have evolved too. I no longer feel the need to speak up to be heard, and I Now companies are filled with all kinds of people.”
Michelle Cordeiro Grant, founder and CEO of LIVELY and GORGIE, added: “In the early 2000s, there were still not many ‘seats’ for women, so I think it made women feel insanely competitive and brutal. It felt like survival of the fittest , instead of supporting each other and raising the whole team. That has subsided since then, as people feel more and more that the more we lift each other up, the more we will thrive.”
Past paradigms have primarily been about leading through masculinity. Previously, women felt they had to cut off their femininity to fit into a male-dominated system. Times have changed, and this style of leadership is not the most effective in today’s realities. Society has moved beyond strictly adhering to the roles of whichever sex we were born into. We are now entering into a balanced dynamic that combines the masculine and feminine characteristics (not gender) of each individual. Having the ability to acquire both qualities creates multidimensionality and greater adaptability. For more insights on the qualities of women and men, visit Women and Men at Work.
There have been real efforts to amplify female entrepreneurship, and women are still breaking into asymmetrical social structures that have historically been designed for men. Men and women need to work together to redesign social structures that suit the needs of both genders. It takes awareness of our past entanglement and patience with the future we want to create as we turn the tide into a fair one. The future of equity is still being pioneered. Building this prosperous future will require the combined efforts of both men and women. Fairness is knowing that different people have different experiences, needs and talents. We must stop trying to be like each other and start embracing equality by celebrating our differences. It is critical that every step we take recognize and respect the efforts of people based on merit rather than prejudice. We all have to keep pushing the needle to the point of balance.