The Let’s Be Better: 10 ways our culture can still improve for working women

(Illustration by Aaron Taylor)

(Illustration by Aaron Taylor)

Let’s talk. In the women’s issue of Utah Valley BusinessQ, the ladies weigh in on what it’s like to be a woman in business in 2016. Here are 10 ways our culture can still improve for working women.

1. More, please.

“Although women now make up 38 percent of the business owners, women are only employing 8 percent of employees and bringing in only 4 percent of revenues,” says Kim Flynn, founder of Entrepreneur Simplified. “That means men-owned businesses employ 92 percent of employees and bring in 96 percent of small business revenues. Painful. And while 6 percent of men-owned businesses will make it to the $1 million revenue mark, only 1.8 percent of women will get there.”

2. Dream bigger. 

“The reason women aren’t playing bigger in business is not because we are less talented, less adept,” Flynn says. “The reason women aren’t playing bigger is because we are socialized to not play big. If someone interviews a successful man about his business, he will generally get asked about growth strategies. If someone asks a woman about her business, she will get asked about how she balances it all, if she has kids, and what she does for child care. The message is always: you can play in business, but you need to be very, very careful about not playing too big. Women are socialized (by other men and women) to not take risks, not stand out, and not have aspirations outside of the home.”

3. Capital, my capital. 

“I started a 3D printing technology company about four years ago,” says Cydni Tetro, founder of 3DPlusMe. “We did partnerships with the largest brands and channels — Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, MLB, NFL, MLS, Warner Brothers, Target, Walmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Hasbro and others. I raised money for our company. As a woman, I had a less than 5 percent chance of raising money. I had to talk to 50 investors to get three to give me money. My male counterparts have a 15 percent chance. We can do better. We have to. We need women to have the same opportunity to raise capital.”

4. Bossy pants. 

“The biggest hurdle I’ve seen is that women with gravitas are regarded as ‘difficult’ while men are respected for the same quality,” says Amy Osmond Cook, founder of Osmond Marketing. “I’ve had to embrace my inner warrior and accept it as one of the casualties — or perks — of the job.”    

Adds Provo City’s Allison Lew: “It can be really frustrating when I am in a meeting of mostly men, and when I differ in opinion, my ideas are seen as wrong instead of just different. I am still learning how to respond to situations like this. I want to be humble and open to learning, but I also want to stand up for my ideas when they get knocked down for being different. Women’s perspectives are valuable to finding solutions, and I want to work on embracing that instead of getting discouraged when I face pushback from male peers.”

5. Value performance. 

“Work environment is a huge factor,” Tetro says. “Today, many companies still value an employee based on if they’re in the seat at their desk. This is antiquated. In professional and tech jobs, you have to value employees based on performance and delivery. Women want to work for companies that allow them to balance all needs. ‘I need to go to the soccer game at 3 p.m. and I will get back online to work in the evening.’ ‘I need to join via a conference call as I drop my kids off at school.’ ‘I need to take the red-eye out and the first flight back.’ To make the environment better for women, to attract them, we must create cultures that value performance and can support autonomy.”

“I am typically the only woman in the room. This is my world, and I perform and work it every day. That doesn’t negate the fact that the environment could and should be better.” — Cydni Tetro, co-founder of the Women Tech Council

6. Learn and live. 

“Education is essential to anyone’s pursuits,” says Cynthia Gambill, owner of Remedez Hair Spa in Orem. “I wish even more women in Utah could make education a priority. It is about being resourceful and giving our future generations a living example. Also, too many women ‘look’ confident, but sadly only a few are comfortable with their own souls. Let’s make ourselves internally strong.”

7. All in the family. 

“The daily struggle I see for women is balancing work and family,” says Megan Perry, owner of TrailTalk Provo. “The recipe for success is very much hard work, but someone has to prep dinner, get kids to practice, take care of an aging parent, and go on a date night with their spouse. The demands of work tend to challenge these priorities. I’ve seen a shift that more men are helping women balance these demands, so very soon I think we will be talking about this as an issue for both men and women. Maternity leaves and paternity leaves are issues that are undervalued and need to be discussed.”

Adds Keystone Aviation’s Kimberly Page: “In order for more women to take active roles in business and government, there needs to be more support — affordable child care being at the top of the list — as well as more societal value placed on those contributions.”

8. Pay it forward. 

“The wage gap still exists across the nation and businesses need to continue to have equal pay,” says Jodi Durrant of Nu Skin. “Women have unique skills, and businesses need to take advantage of what they have to offer.”

Adds Mary Crafts-Homer: “The companies and positions that are not offering equal pay for equal work clearly have not heard the mantra: If you want something done and done right, give it to a busy woman. We don’t have time to do it all over again!”

9. Just say no. 

“One frustration I encounter is the concept of ‘no means no,’” Page says. “It sounds cliché, but in society and in business, a ‘no’ from a man is respected, but a ‘no’ from a woman is the beginning of a negotiation. Thus, we introduce inefficiency into our decision-making process because we end up rehashing issues that have already been decided. I need to own my role in that exchange. I need to manage the communication and make the outcome of those discussions more clear.”

10. Diversify your network. 

“Ask the next CEO you meet how many executive women they know,” Tetro says. “How many have they met for a lunch meeting in the past 30 days? Then ask them how many men they know — and how many they have been to lunch with. What you will learn is that the networks are different because the career and growth opportunities provided to each are different. We have to get intentional about building networks of diversity so that opportunities flow to all qualified people.”

This is the one story in a series, “The good + the let’s be better + the best not say that again,” in the women’s issue of Utah Valley BusinessQ. 

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