Women in business – that used to be a radical phrase and when I say “used to be” I am referring to my teens. Now, women are ubiquitous in Western businesses. Some, like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, have gone on to great notoriety and made the leap from business to politics and back again. We have had three women serve as Secretary of State, two run for the office of Vice President and one run for President. In all, those are impressive statistics – or are they?
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of FaceBook and stands to be the one of the richest women in America upon the company’s IPO, a woman who has “made it.” But she recently pointed out the continuing inequities in the workforce and the stagnation of progress. Here she addresses TEDWomen in which she discusses the statistics and the road to improving those numbers. http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html
This inspired me to look at the franchise sector as a microcosm of U.S. business and see how women fared. While at the IFA2012 Convention I sat down with Nancy Weingartner, Executive Editor of Franchise Times, at the booth of EH Anderson PR to discuss the role of women in franchising. Here is our conversation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFgA8ERu9tk&list=UUZl4-A3FAtuxIuLeDiW42aQ&index=3&feature=plcp
We are right in the middle of the demographic and that’s not good enough. The sector is broken into two different groups: franchise and supplier. The franchise sector is not doing as well as the supplier sector and I think much of that is driven by two things: 1) Women start more businesses in the supplier section than are franchisors and 2) many franchise systems have been acquired by larger companies and so the global demographic is imposed on the sector as a whole. But it is not hopeless – we have great women leaders who want to make opportunities for more women. Kat Cole of Cinnabon gave an impassioned presentation at the Women’s Leadership Conference at IFA 2012 in which she told her story and stressed the importance of networking and connections and now she works hard to give back. In that same program Jania Bailey of FranNet and Debbie Shwetz of Nothing Bundt Cakes showed how to build strong and dynamic brands having the right blend of talent – male and female.
We can make change and ripple it out through the country. The statistics are clear that in today’s economy more women than men are starting and successfully running small businesses, so what is stopping us from growing beyond the 15-20% glass ceiling?
What opportunities do you want for your daughters, sisters, wives and friends? It’s all up to us and I believe franchising, that is leading this country from the recession, can also lead us to true gender equality.