You may decide that the most important thing you can do is raise awareness at home. If that is the case, then engage people at the grassroots and make the case that people in your community should care about helping women participate more fully in the economy.
1. Buy from women-owned businesses.
Every day we spend money on goods and services, whether for ourselves, our family and friends, or as part of our jobs. This gives each of us multiple opportunities to use our spending power to benefit women. Make a conscious commitment to look for companies owned and/or managed by women. If you own or manage a business, commit to purchasing as many of your goods and services from women-owned or women-managed businesses as possible, and ask your employees to always consider buying from women-owned businesses.
Buying from women-owned businesses is important at every level. The 224 million women entrepreneurs globally represent 35% of firms in the formal economy.42 Despite this, less than 1% of corporate or government purchasing is from women-owned businesses.43 Increasing this percentage of spend will have a tremendous impact.
Such spending can include everything from IT, catering, and accounting services to clothing, jewelry, food, and gifts. Janet’s List is a website that maintains a list of businesses in the U.K. owned by Black women and women of color.44 The Women Owned45 directory lists women-owned businesses in the U.S. and abroad. The businesses in Women Owned are certified by one of two entities: the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and WEConnect International. Being certified means that the business is at least 51% owned, operated, controlled, and managed by a woman or women. Minerva is another directory.46 In addition to directories, you can also:
• Ask vendors you currently use, and stores you visit, if they are women-owned or managed.
• Create your own list of businesses that are women-owned and/or managed, and share that information with your friends, family, and neighbors.
• If they don’t already, ask businesses that are women-owned to note that on their websites and in advertisements.
2. Use your networks of friends and co-workers to support other women.
All of us have networks, starting with people we meet in our neighborhood, at school or work, during community activities, or through shared interests. We are sometimes hesitant to use these networks for business development. But being an active part of a network can increase your economic options and opportunity as well as open up economic opportunity for other women. Networks are a good source of new customers. Networks allow women to come together to identify common challenges and to brainstorm about how to solve problems and move forward. Networks help women gain the information and skills necessary to be successful in our jobs and careers, or to pivot to something new.
3. Suggest a woman when you are asked for an idea about whom to hire, or when you are asked to recommend a speaker.
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