We’ve all heard that the gender pay gap and the gender wealth gap are serious problems — and they certainly are. On average, women earn less than men, about 82 cents per dollar in the U.S. and the gender wealth gap is considerably larger than the gender wage gap. Families headed by women have just 55 cents in median wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by families headed by men. As you drill down into more specific views of the problem in terms of race and socio-economic trends, the problem only widens.
Given this information, it’s no wonder that many women have turned to startups and small business ownership as a solution, and a way to be the masters of their own fate. For a growing number of women, the fastest route to the c-suite is launching their own business. In the United States, the number of women-owned businesses have increased 74 percent over the past 20 years — 1.5 times the national average.
Seeing the value in this, an increasing number of well-known organizations like IBM, General Motors, and Mondelēz International have appointed female CEOs, and the trend toward women in leadership positions seems to be on the rise. In fact, there are more women running Fortune 500 businesses today than at any point in the 63-year history of the Fortune 500. However, when put in context, that’s still only 6.4 percent of these leading companies.
Efforts are being made to level the playing field though. A philanthropic push spearheaded by Goldman Sachs will invest $10 million over a series of years in nonprofits led by Black women. Each recipient will get two years' worth of general operating funding, ranging from $50,000-$250,000, and every grantee is led by a Black woman, and has multiple Black women in “significant positions of leadership”.
Elsewhere, there are other promising signs of a shifting tide. Lauren Simmons, an entrepreneur and rising star in the finance world recently became (at just 22 years old) the youngest person and only the second Black woman on the New York Stock Exchange. Since leaving Wall Street, Simmons has launched a podcast “Money Moves” which helps make financial literacy more accessible for young women.
Many other examples have made news of late, showing positive changes in the empowering of women — and particularly women of color — in business. It’s no wonder when you consider that over the past twenty years, women have out-scored men in startups by 150 percent. his trend is hopeful, not only for our economy but also in narrowing the gender gap when it comes to equity in jobs and earning potential.
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