(JAN 16, 2018) Forbes CommunityVoice, By Kevin Rowe
Women business owners are a powerful force in the United States. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, there are more than 9 million women-owned businesses in the United States who employ almost 8 million people and bring in $1.4 trillion annually.
However, even with these numbers, they are the minority. Below are a few ways we can specifically promote these amazing and dedicated business owners online as advocates and learners.
Ask For Their Insight
We don’t do podcasts at my business now, but if we did, I would make a point to make sure we had a near equal amount of male and female business owners on as guests. The same goes for interviews, webinars or any other expert-led pieces of content.
With content or other events (like conferences or online trainings), be sure to pay attention to any inequality, whether that is gender or another demographic. Having a varied source of experts is a great way to get different insight that you may not have received had you not promoted hard-working experts who deserve it.
Follow And RT
On social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, be sure to follow, retweet and promote accounts from women-owned business owners and their companies. To find people to follow, search for “women-owned business” or “women entrepreneurs” on Twitter, or check out the various roundup lists in your industry — like this one or this one — that give suggestions of who to follow. You can also use Twitter’s advanced search feature to search by your location to find entrepreneurs in your area.
Making a point to be a supportive advocate for female entrepreneurs can help our industry as a whole, as well. When we begin to see each other as role models and inspiration, we help one another grow.
Buy From Women-Owned Companies
A number of friends and colleagues make it a point to buy from women-owned companies when they are able to. They all support Small Business Saturday (which is the Saturday after Black Friday and is championed by American Express) in their community or online to make sure small businesses are feeling the love during the holiday season.
If you are on the lookout for a specific item, like a sweater or new set of whiskey glasses, do some research first to see if there is a women-owned or small business you can buy from instead of a big retailer like JCPenney or Walmart.
If you’re unsure where to spend your money, put a call-out on social media to ask for suggestions for great businesses to frequent. If your network can’t help, try a discussion forum like Quora or Reddit to get ideas. By supporting businesses in our community and online, we can support all entrepreneurs who work so hard daily to make their business a success.
Don’t Undermine Women On Social Media
This one may be a little touchy to address since I’m male, but the term "mansplaining" has been used for decades. I’m not going to explain what it is because I understand the irony of that, but 2017 has brought about a new awareness for men who want to make sure the women in their network feel supported and treated as equals.
In addition to treating women as equals, my advice to men (and women) is to make a point to watch how you respond to people on social media. Sometimes a comment that wasn’t meant negatively can be misconstrued, so be careful about what you say online (and in person). If you would take offense at someone saying it to you, you probably shouldn’t say it to someone else. If all else fails, as a colleague to look at your email or tweet before sending it to ensure it doesn’t come across as tone deaf, inappropriate or just plain rude.
Men still have a lot to learn about women's experiences in entrepreneurship and the struggles they face on a regular basis. Doing social experiments like the co-workers that switched email addresses for a week or just simply asking in an attempt to learn can hopefully go a long way.
In addition to better promotion and advocating for women, changing how you speak also makes a difference. Be cognizant of how you address and introduce women. A CNN article reports only 49% of men properly introduced a female colleague as "doctor" at a medical conference. Men also need to make sure they aren’t using condescending terms like “sweetheart” or “hun” when speaking to or talking about women.
Overall, there are so many amazing women business owners and entrepreneurs that we all can learn from. By advocating for women in our communities, networks and industries, we make our world better as a whole for everyone involved.