We know that women have long suffered misrepresentation in the business world. They are scarce in corporate leadership roles and male-dominated fields like science, technology and entrepreneurship. We also know that gender diversity is good for business, resulting in greater profitability and innovation. We all know these facts, and yet the problem persists.
There are a number of ways to address this, but one that is less discussed is the idea of supporting girls and women as a part of a company’s social responsibility program. There’s perhaps nothing more beneficial to businesses and their surrounding communities than supporting young talent, and if that talent consists of women and girls, we’d be doing ourselves an even greater service.
In the entrepreneurial space, only 10 percent of funding globally goes to women, and only 0.2 percent to black women. This is a gross disservice that needs to change and it’s why supporting female-driven programs is so crucial. There are many avenues for doing so, from facilitating mentorships to hosting workshops; depending on your industry and your community, your highest impact options will vary. Take a look at the organizations and nonprofits in your area, as well as schools and community support programs looking for partners. In many cases, your best bet might simply be to donate time or money to the organizations that are already making headway with dynamic programs aimed at supporting women and girls.
Here are a few options that are worth looking into:
- Digital Undivided: This organization offers a 9-month incubator program designed to help black and Latinx women through the startup pipeline to launch their own businesses. Participants receive instruction in customer development, product development, and company development. Upon completion, participants pitch their company to active investors.
- MakerGirl: This organization provides a STEM education and mentorship program to girls. Honing in on kids in the 7-10 age range, MakerGirl strives to show girls that they can be creative and analytical at the same time. Data shows that girls fall off the STEAM train around middle school, so MakerGirl seeks to grow and deepen their interest before that happens, encouraging participation in creative, analytical projects like 3D printing. MakerGirl also has partnerships with college campuses and facilitates mentorship programs for women.
- The National Association of Women Business Owners: For over 40 years, this organization has been helping women working in all industries found and run their own businesses. NAWBO supports networking and mentorship programs, provides educational resources, and advocates for the needs of female business owners.
- Pretty Brainy: This nonprofit empowers girls (ages 10-18 as well as their collegiate mentors) by providing them with relevant STEAM learning. Pretty Brainy tailors curricula to hold girls’ interest and gives them the confidence necessary to excel in science and math.
- Women Who Tech: This nonprofit showcases and funds female founders. They also monitor the landscape for women in leadership, and have found through their research that about 40 percent of female founders looking to raise capital are sexually harassed and, of those women, 65 percent were offered funding in exchange for sex. Women Who Tech not only raises awareness of these issues, but offers women a safe alternative for funding needs.
Investing in programs that help females is a social cause worth fighting for, or at least one that should command financial support from a business community that stands to benefit from a more diverse workforce. Your support can help a little girl dream beyond what she thinks is possible today. You can help women gain employment, start businesses, and reach financial independence. Until we step up to truly support our women and girls, providing them with confidence and training, we’ll never realize the true potential of our economy.