Recession or she-cession? During the pandemic the global economy fell into a tailspin that disproportionately targeted female entrepreneurs.
It didn’t help female professionals determined to move up the corporate ladder, either. Around a quarter of working women with and without kids contemplated leaving the workforce due to Covid, especially those in senior positions or from historically underrepresented groups.
Despite these setbacks, plenty of women pushed beyond coronavirus obstacles. They leaned into fresh thinking and disrupted their sectors, all the time bringing others up with them. Today, their novel ideas and processes are helping to heal a wounded business world by putting people first. Below are five industry areas being impacted, challenged, and changed by positive—and persevering—females.
Fundraising tends to follow a systematic “ask, get” cycle. Though this cycle drives donations, it can often feel cold and stale. Beyond tax write-offs and advertising, many givers don’t feel like donating is a two-way street. Yes, they receive emails and thank-yous, but they’re not really being treated to a concierge experience. That leads them to drop off, which no nonprofit can afford after 2020.
Mallory Erickson is trying to revitalize the fundraising industry by deepening the relationship between donors and nonprofits. As an executive coach in the not-for-profit world, Erickson helps nonprofits understand how to avoid overbaked donor stewardship by more strategically nurturing donor partnerships. Her technique helps reduce burnout among nonprofit employees and adds the human touch back into what should be a human-focused industry. Case in point: She advised one nonprofit executive to scale back on widespread communications in favor of more customized, occasional content. The result was improved donor response across the board.
2. Venture Funding
Venture Funding has traditionally been difficult for women to nab—especially women of color. As Candice Morgan notes in a Fast Company piece, 1% of investor funding goes to Black entrepreneurs. Latinx founders fare only minimally better at 2%. But Morgan expects to change that number one upstart at a time.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Morgan was made venture funding firm GV’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Partner. In her role, she plans to not just help her own company’s DEI processes, but the processes of the businesses in the GV portfolio. In essence, she’s showing emerging startups how they can bake DEI into the fabric of their culture from the beginning. This differs widely from classic techniques to “overlay” DEI onto existing business structures. By instituting DEI from the start, teams at organizations will naturally lean toward greater inclusivity.
Typically, crowdfunding is used to develop widgets or fuel creative dreams. Simone Gordon saw the sector as a way to raise awareness to the unique needs of marginalized Black and Brown individuals and families. As a result, she earned the moniker The Black Fairy Godmother from someone who was helped by her innovative crowdfunding system.
Gordon’s organization urges strangers to commit random acts of kindness and share their blessings. Unlike other fundraising organizers, she relies on a variety of platforms depending upon the needs of those she helps. For instance, some fundraising can be done “registry style” by directly ordering items on Amazon. Other fundraising happens via sites like Venmo or Paypal. By choosing a variety of social, ecommerce, and money sharing portals, Gordon is able to best serve people in need in tangible, immediate ways in places that make sense.
4. Money Management
There are many apps on the market that aim to help people invest, save, and even trade. But they aren’t directed at women specifically, who may have unique financial concerns. Even a single mom may have different worries than a single dad, especially since women tend to earn about 82 cents for every dollar a man receives.
This is where the Ellevest app comes into play. Its CEO, Sallie Lee Krawcheck, has made a bold move to unite women with simple money management strategies that can assist them in achieving their goals. Krawcheck’s membership-based app provides coaching, technologically backed recommendations, and retirement solutions. Though Ellevest has been around for seven years, it’s begun to gain more traction and was named one of the Best Robo-Advisors for IRA Investing from NerdWallet in 2021.
The media’s been itching for a disruption for a decade. Still, most media companies aren’t built by housewives with film degrees like Lisa Bilyeu. Once sure she was destined to be a stay-at-home spouse, Bilyeu realized she could do something exciting and novel with her filmmaking passion. With husband, Tom, she co-founded Impact Theory, a media company containing deeply honest self-improvement content that’s been rated highly by heavy-hitters including international influencer Gary Vaynerchuk.
What’s Bilyeu’s formula? She’s helped grow Impact’s “Women of Impact” and other shows by applying skills she collected from her education. Set on empowering others with fresh content unavailable elsewhere, Bilyeu and her team tackle topics from social anxiety to self-belief, all important lessons for moving beyond coronavirus. While other media messaging clings to negative narratives or eschews truth, the Bilyeus’ brand of media is designed to have real meaning—and outcomes—for all listeners and readers.
Women make up about 50% of the population, but their creative ways of perceiving the business world could be 100% of the solution the world needs post-Covid. As more women jump into entrepreneurship, they’ll bring something unexpected, exciting, and people-centered to their respective sectors…. not to mention motivate other female innovators to follow suit.