Not some of my returns, all of my returns were coming from companies either owned or run by women. – Kevin O’Leary (Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank)
Investments in companies with at least one female founder performed 63% better than their investments in all-male teams. – VC Firm Report
So the other day I was listening to a podcast with Kevin O ‘Leary on it and he was talking about how all his profits came from his women owned businesses (after they completed an audit of all his businesses).
That was a curious finding.
But what I found even more interesting and fascinating, as he dove in below the surface, was that the WAY women ran their businesses, in terms of how they set goals, was radically different from the way men did.
So what was the difference?
Before I go into that let’s discuss the current political climate.
Just prior to, and now continuing after, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, there has been a resurgence in the focus on the empowerment of women. An almost second women’s liberation and women’s rights movement.
Whether it was addressing the pay gap between men and women in comparable jobs.
Or continuing to hammer against the glass ceiling in management, executive roles or business founder funding.
Or pulling back the shades that hide the well-known sexual harassment, casting couches, and even worse treatment that women dealt with in order to progress in their industries (whether media, politics, or business).
This transitioned into a full-fledged and viral response that led to the “Me Too!” sharing that started to take down media moguls, political leaders and the dominoes are continuing to fall.
Now what does this have to do with women and business?
A recent podcast by my sister, Annie Rogaski, had an interesting interview with Unraveling Pink Mona Sabet, Managing Director of Tribal Ventures. They discussed the challenge of the #MeToo movement and acknowledging how men have helped them progress in their careers but also how to address the wrongdoing aspects that often are tied into the good in a single man. Is it wrong to celebrate the man if they have the negative aspects.
As a man looking in, I can’t claim to have a full comprehension of the challenges these women face.
From my perspective being a man, it is hard when there is a lot of push against men these days. Particularly the straight-white-male. Where it isn’t politically correct to be one. So as one, where does that put me? How can I take the realities women face, particularly in business, and help drive solutions – or awareness of how to progress to a better future where everyone wins?
So my feeling is at this point in our world, we’re still dealing with the “cleanse”. Getting the negatives out. And cleaning house. It is kind of like the “tell me about your childhood” question when you go into the therapist’s office. You can’t build until you uncover the issues at the core.
I believe that is happening now.
So where do things go as we emerge from the pain, hurt, and real challenges that go with being a woman in what has often been a man’s world?
It has already started.
First is to recognize that the base level groundwork has already been laid. Women already dominate men in academia – more degrees are going to women than men.
According to data from the Department of Education on college degrees by gender, the US college degree gap favoring women started back in 1978, when for the first time ever, more women than men earned Associate’s degrees. Five years later in 1982, women earned more bachelor’s degrees than men for the first time, and women have increased their share of bachelor’s degrees in every year since then. In another five years by 1987, women earned the majority of master’s degrees for the first time. Finally, within another decade, more women than men earned doctor’s degrees by 2006, and female domination of college degrees at every level was complete. For the current graduating class of 2013, the Department of Education estimates that women will earn 61.6% of all associate’s degrees this year, 56.7% of all bachelor’s degrees, 59.9% of all master’s degrees, and 51.6% of all doctor’s degrees. Overall, 140 women will graduate with a college degree at some level this year for every 100 men. The article is from AEI Ideas and is summarized by Carnegie Foundation..
Its a new work world.
Secondly it is the change in the work environment.
No longer do people work at a company for life. So the need to put up with shit as you climb the ladder takes the pressure off. You have options to address it or go to another company where you are treated better.
There is the gig economy. You can have a side hustle or be a freelancer or startup a company. And then you set the rules. Technology has made much of that possible.
Sexual harassment laws and a public attitude that now supports women who come out of the shadows, are giving more protection to women that previously existed.
Women are different…and in this case better.
And finally, it will be the recognition of what women bring to the workplace…a skillset, mindset, and way of doing things that is different from me. And that can be the base to grow a truly empowered women’s movement in business. One that is based on true competitive advantage rather than coming from a place of being a victim (even when that victim label is often accurate).
So back to the Kevin O’Leary story. What is it that women business owners and managers were doing that was driving profits that Mr. Wonderful was not finding in him men-run businesses?
He found his women leaders were doing goal setting differently than men.
Men set aggressive goals but often miss the target.
Women set more achievable goals and nearly always hit their target.
Now you might say that setting achievable goals doesn’t drive the company forward enough. That it accepts “good enough” and that complacency might set in.
What achievable goals are better goals.
And like when I’ve trained my kids or dogs (no, I’m not equating them) I’ve had a similar quandary. Should I reinforce “close”? With dog training when you’re trying to train them to do something you can use “click training” where when they move toward achieving the correct result, you click the clicker and give them a treat. And over time you move the bar so that you reward them only as they move in the right direction. And eventually they achieve the correct action fully and you reward them for it.
With goal setting by setting achievable goals, you develop a success mentality. This is different from just giving everyone a trophy that they haven’t earned. They are earning it. And you will move the bar so they achieve progressively more and more toward the company’s shared vision.
The unintended consequences of taking this approach is people don’t feel defeated. Often the case when goals (or bonuses or commission structures) aren’t achievable. And because they are more positive, morale is better. And turnover of staff is significantly reduced.
And anyone in business knows that turnover is a killer of productivity, profitability, and the long term viability of a company.
Where we go from here.
So what can you do as a man? Find go-getter women who want to achieve, and put them in positions of power so they can drive results. Or invest in women founders and women-managed businesses. Or just help them by clearing roadblocks. Sow that good Karma.
What if you’re a woman? As I always tell my daughter, you can achieve anything you put your mind to and are willing to put in the work towards. At 10 years old she recently passed the million word level in school in her book reading and is #1 in reading in 5th grade in her school. She is a fast and voracious reader. And as I tell her, “Readers are Leaders”. So as a woman, don’t let anyone hold you back. You do have options. Whether that is by leveraging women’s organizations (like The Club) or developing your own women support group. Or accepting the help and guidance of men who want to see you succeed, or connecting with investors who just want a better return on their investments. You have what it takes.
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