For the first time in U.S. history, women make up the majority of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet their real value to the economy has yet to be realized.
In June the pay equity bill — which sought to achieve equal pay for women by enabling them to use legal means — failed to pass in Congress. Furthermore, on average, Caucasian women make 85 cents on the dollar compared to men.
This drops dramatically when you look at other ethnic groups, according to the Coalition of Labor Union Women. African-American women, for instance, earned 67.5 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings, while Latina women earned 57.7 percent.
Still, women do have a significant presence in small business. A March 2012 Entrepreneur.com blog noted that about 550 female-owned business are started each day in the U.S.; in the last year, more than 200,000 female-owned enterprises opened, the blog said.
And, during that same time period, small businesses generated 64 percent of new jobs, according Chuck Vollmer, author of Jobenomics: A Plan for America. Not only do small businesses tend to employ more people, Vollmer wrote, but they are also far less likely to outsource jobs overseas.
Women, moreover, are also among the most influential consumers. Women influence nearly 85 percent of all purchasing decisions, including half of products that would seem more oriented to men — such as automobiles, home improvement items and consumer electronics.
For products related to home life, it’s been reported that moms represent a $2.4 trillion market. This makes women a key target audience for diversity executives, both in employees and in the marketplace.
While diversity executives should pay plenty of attention to hiring and shifting business to play to these growing demographic figures, women should focus on these areas to grow professionally and be noticed:
Have laser focus: Everything needs to be focused on the goal at hand. Lay out your plan and learn to say no to things that do not support the plan. It is so easy to become distracted with opinions, side-projects and basic interruptions.
Expect the unexpected: When setting a goal, plan for challenges. Don’t let setbacks take away from the focus. They are part of the process. Recognize the setback for what it is and get back on track or plan an alternative workaround. Being ready for a challenge is the way to stay ahead of the game.
Be mentorship-minded: Having successful entrepreneurs on all sides will help any burgeoning entrepreneur aspire to a higher standard. Identify a mentor who can aid in reaching this level. These people have knowledge, resources and connections that can help along the way. Attending events with networking opportunities is the perfect way to seek out like-minded individuals who are able to be a resource, source of support and inspiration.
Set Personal priorities: Identify priorities. If there appears to be no time for what’s important, it becomes easy to lose motivation.
Don’t compete — collaborate: So many colleagues tear each other down in the process of trying to climb the ladder. Rather than seeing fellow talent as a threat, use them as a resource. Network, socialize and support each other in business because it is collaboration that leads to the best ideas and the greatest success.
Michelle Patterson is CEO of EventComplete, a full service event management company. She can be reached at email@example.com.