Business owner Tina Short says we must encourage more women to get into business. (submitted)

Women make the world go around

Take a look around and notice how many businesses are being run by women these days.

By Tina Short

Take a look around and notice how many businesses are being run by women these days.

Not only retail shops, hairdressers, and daycare centres, but they are now CEOs for many corporations such as HP, Lockheed Martin, GM and Xerox just to name a few. They are not just running traditional companies focused on women, these are computer companies, airplane manufacturers and more.

We live in exciting times. I hope that with more women running large corporations we are changing the way business is done. That there is more of a focus on ethics, human resource management, environmental issues and generally a more morally run company. Women tend to be nurturers and I believe that reflects the way they run their companies.

I like to believe that they are not just focused on the bottom line, but a more balanced approach to running a business and still making profit.

“Women now make up nearly 60 per cent of college graduates in the U.S., as well as more than 50 per cent of graduate school classes in many traditionally male fields, including law and medicine. Yet despite these gains, equality has not been reached in business, especially at the most senior levels.

As the only female leading a top 10 business school, I find this troubling. Further, past data predicts that at least 50 per cent of the women graduating from top MBA programs in 2017 will exit the full-time U.S. workforce within 10 years of graduating — either because they choose to step out or are “forced out.” This trend does not portend well for future progress.” — Sally Blount Dean at Kellogg School of Management

Although those are U.S. numbers, I suspect that Canada is the same. We need to be finding more solutions to keep more women in the workforce and securing the better positions. I think that somehow we need to find a way to provide more affordable daycare, but at the same time better quality daycares. Maybe some type of subsidy for daycare providers based on some type of criteria set by the industry. Similar to ISO grading or stars for hotels. The better the daycare, the more subsidies it receives. I believe if we had better daycares and more affordable ones, more women would choose to follow a career, rather than opting to stay home.

How do we maintain better quality daycares? Maybe there should be more secret shoppers like they have in retail. They would grade the daycare centres like they would any other retail store. This ensures that the daycare is providing the level of service expected to maintain their subsidy.

But even before then, girls at the high school level should be encouraged to go into non-traditional studies and also to take business courses. They should be shown how they can follow their dreams in business while not feeling the need to give up the idea of raising families.

That is why businesses such as Arbonne, Mary Kay, Nusana, Univera, and Young Living appeal to young mothers. The idea that they can make a great living on their terms, schedule and the low entry level costs appeals to them. However, on a percentage level, how many of them really make a good living let alone adequate living?

Most of them wind up spending more on maintaining their distributor status than actually earning a lot of money. Not that I am knocking down this type of business, but I am saying that if there were more supports in place for young families, like affordable daycare, flex work schedules, telecommuting, courses on how the corporate world needs to be navigated and played, and mentoring, women would most likely stay in the workforce and move up the ladder.

I still believe that getting a higher education and going into the traditional corporate world will earn women more income and power than relationship marketing, but it is definitely a survival of the fittest out there. There is also a need for more mentorship programs for women at the top to nurture the rising stars. In this way, women can become the heads of research and development, CEOs CFOs and COOs of these relationship companies, not just the sales and marketing teams.

They can become the doctors, scientists, technicians, computer developers, programmers of the next generations and perhaps find the cures for all cancers and health issues. They can be the ones to run our country, develop policies, create the balance between environmental protection and economic growth, while at the same time raising the next generation of leaders.

Tina Short is the owner of A Memorable Canadian Gift, headquartered in Duncan

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