Are female leaders really absent from Australia’s corporate sector or is our understanding of women’s progress being distorted by focusing only on ASX500 companies?
The reality is women are walking away from corporate Australia. Instead, we are experiencing a growth in the number of female business owners. According to a recent report issued by AWCCI, research suggests the number of women starting their own businesses has doubled since 2007 and there are currently around 1 million women trading in Australia.
We all know you can have a great career without working for, or being a director of an ASX500 company. Entrepreneurship provides a great way to lead and innovate, while providing a degree of flexibility, where required, for family and caring responsibilities.
Working within Australia’s many small and medium sized businesses affords women valuable business education and career paths that are more rewarding and fulfilling than with the bureaucracy and limitations sometimes presented by large organisations.
Over the past decade especially, women have come into their own as business owners. Their level of ingenuity, creativity and spirit is inspiring. Not only are they running businesses, they are also serving on advisory committees or boards and making a contribution to advancing women through networks and mentoring.
The biggest change factor has been technology. The changes in technology over the past 10 years have really enabled women-lead flexible, innovative and globally-competitive businesses.
Technology has allowed many women to start and build their businesses regardless of the three elements that were generally barriers in the past ‑ family responsibilities, geographic location or operating from home. Because of technology these things are no longer barriers for women entrepreneurs.
Female business owners don’t receive enough recognition, whether it is their contributions to the economy, as employers or purely on their success as entrepreneurs. As a result the many women struggling to operate their own business have few role models they can aspire and relate to.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, on Monday 4 March 2013, The Australian Businesswomen’s Network (ABN) launched its 2013 Hall of Fame recognising the achievements of 16 female business owners from industries as diverse as breakfast foods, fashion and construction.
The Australian Businesswomen’s Network Hall of Fame will give Australian women the opportunity to connect, learn from and be inspired by female role models of business success.
This rapid growth in female business owners shouldn’t be ignored. As Hilary Clinton advised, “In order to achieve the economic expansion we all seek, we need to unlock a vital source of growth that can power our economies in the decades to come. This vital source of growth is women.”