Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Women Entrepreneurs--the New Equal Rights Amendment

It's interesting how consistently I am hearing from women who are perplexed that after 100 or more years of active effort to achieve equity in pay, opportunity and representation, we are still pushing a very heavy stone up a very steep hill. And further, we're pretty tired of hearing that things are all good.

Here's the issue from my perspective. While there may be a few men out there who consciously and with an agenda are seeking to keep women from achieving their goals and making progress, most of what is going on is unconscious, a part of the culture of male designed institutions that we have been living in for over 4000 years. It's not personal, it's just business. And politics.
And culture.

And working to change culture from the inside is not very effective. You only have to look at the current resistance to clean-energy to understand the incredible hold that an in-place culture has on us. Who would vote for dirty over clean? Who would think that societies should spend tax dollars to supplement the incomes of traditional energy giants while they increase profits and decrease investment in clean energy options. It's not logical. It's not smart. But it is common. We're used to it so we don't even (mostly) notice it.

Culture is like air. We can't recognize it because we swim in it every day. Asking the male dominant culture to recognize the things they do that make it difficult for them to see, appreciate, and nominate women into positions of influence is a bit like asking a fish to describe water--or asking them to choose air instead.

After 50 years of focused effort, the statistics are abysmal.

So, what do we do now?

Well, as a start, how about we quit trying to break through glass ceilings with rubber (or even glass) hammers?

How about we demand parity studies and mentoring programs that ease the cost of entry into traditionally male dominated industries--and encourage and empower women to start their own businesses?

How about we build a serious movement of women entrepreneurs and help them understand that they can build businesses that are not only financially successful but are also great places to work and that these great places can allow for families, communities and a healthy and vibrant future?

I'll be discussing these issues in future blogs, but for now I think it's important to acknowledge that what we have been doing is not achieving the hoped for changes--in equity and fairness and importantly in achieving the balance that a woman's viewpoint and approach brings and that the world so needs now.

As a well-known women leader on Wall Street recently commented when asked if the meltdown would of happened if there were more women engaged in the decision-making process, "Women tend not to bet the farm, understanding as we do
that the kids need to live on it."
Now is the time for the new entrepreneurial movement--fueled by the power and passion of women. Join us!