Post by Amy Blais, contributing Women On Business writer
As a women’s business organization we are constantly getting questions about the relevance and importance of women owned businesses. And, as an organization with a mission to connect women owned business with business opportunities, access to contracts and relationships with corporations, there are many different questions and many different answers.
A common question that I receive is “why”. Why do corporations care about doing business with women owned companies? What is their incentive? Why is it seen as an advantage? While there are many different ways to answer this, as there are many different reasons, perhaps the most empowering, proactive and compelling argument that can be made relates to understanding a woman’s power in the economy.
What sparked my thoughts about this, and reminded me of some of my personal motivations for doing what I do, was a recent article I read the Harvard Business Review, entitled “The Female Economy.” This article reinforced the idea of women’s power as global consumers and how that can transform our products and services and shape the future global economy.
The article reminds us that women are controlling $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that number is only expected to rise in the coming years, securely placing us as driving forces in the market. Females make a majority of the household purchasing decisions, including 94% of home furnishings, 92% of vacations, 91% of homes, and 60% of automobiles. In one of its bold statistics, the article states that women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined—something that makes you think twice about where the consumer power lies.
However, the article also addresses a disparity in the statistics, one that resonates among many of us. This disparity is that while women control the consumer market, research demonstrates women feel underappreciated and underserved by the companies and brands they are loyal to. That is, despite their influence on the economy, women do not feel that their opinions are recognized and their needs met by the products and services they so liberally purchase.
These statistics, and particularly this disparity, show a unique and powerful opportunity. That is, if companies recognized and appreciated the influence and power women have in the economy, and aligned their values to meet those of their largest consumer segment, there could be potential for growth and progress. Particularly, if these companies see a way of doing as integrating more women owned business into their supply chains to better match their supplier demographic with their consumer demographic.
In addition to their role as consumers, the article highlights that women are also making their impact on the workplace, earning $13 trillion yearly, with that number expected to rise to $18 trillion in the next 5 years. Beyond the statistics and discussion of potential economic growth, what this article really highlighted was the ever evolving, ever important role of women in our society. Women are continuing to permeate business, politics, medicine, academics and are now being recognized as economic leaders. It is important for we as women, to recognize the ways in which we will continue to excel and lead across all spectrums in the future. Let us use this knowledge as our own stimulus to effect change and continue to define our place in the world.