When Women Lead

Why are women-owned businesses predominant in certain industries? And what can we learn from their successes? 

What do women bring to the leadership table? That’s a thorny question, fraught with broad generalizations, outmoded assumptions and scattered data. But given the fact that companies with a majority female ownership regularly outpace the pack in terms of sales growth—often by as much as 100 percent, according to studies by the Center for Women’s Business Research—the question isn’t merely academic. 

One way of looking at the issue is to peer into those industries where women-owned businesses occur in higher-than-average proportion. According to data from the Small Business Administration, these include professional, scientific and technical services as well as healthcare and social assistance.

But what does that mean for women in male-dominated industries—particularly those, such as financial services, that offer significantly higher wages than other sectors? The Center for Women’s Business Research found these commonalities among women-owned businesses that might offer some clues:

• The vast majority of women business owners are personally involved in selecting and purchasing technology for their businesses.
• Women owners of firms with revenues of $1 million or more produce financial reports more often than smaller firms.
• More than two-thirds of women business owners choose financial products and services based on their relationship and experience with a lender.
In broad terms, these points indicate a strategy of hands-on management, careful research and analysis in the decision-making process, and an emphasis on building personal relationships.
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