“The face of entrepreneurship is changing,” Sutian Dong spoke clearly and confidently into the microphone, she was a living confirmation of her words.
As a kick off to Women's History Month spoiled NYC had the pleasure of attending a panel at Facebook’s New York headquarters hosted by Women@FBNY, which is led by Melissa Oppenheim Lano and Arielle Gross, featuring esteemed designer and entrepreneur Rebecca Minkoff, along with members of the Female Founder Collective: Tina Wells of Buzz Marketing Group, Ariane Goldman of Hatch, and Sutian Dong of Female Founders Fund.
The panel is just the beginning of Facebook’s Woman focused equality initiative for March. It is projected by the World Economic Forum that gender equality will not be reached until 2186, Facebook’s goal is to embrace the current changing environment through an internal practice and external curation that champions men and women coming together to achieve gender parity.
For Facebook, this year’s Womxn’s History Month’s theme is #BalanceforBetter. A movement they are achieving by inspiring the community through the development of an internal allyship program, education, immersive tentpole events, and a focus on intersectionality amplifying awareness. Including creative programming through #SheMeansBusiness initiative, a collaborative fundraiser with The Female Founder Collective and Creative Visions dedicated to enabling and empowering female-owned and led companies, and a bespoke profile picture filter to show female founder support.
This is just the beginning - #SheMeansBusiness has also created an online template (complete with agenda/questions and planning materials), so every female founder is empowered to host their own “Female Founders” events too.
Unbeknownst to many, Rebecca Minkoff’s brand was launched with the desire to “uplift and empower women everywhere” the classic silhouettes are worn by women internationally, empowering them in their day to day life. Yet, Minkoff’s mission doesn’t end there, she actively pursues the elevation of women through a number of social entrepreneurial enterprises including the Female Founder Collective, a nonprofit founded in September of 2018, and her podcast, Superwoman.
The Female Founder Collective was founded after the discovery that 82 percent of women would support women-founded companies if they knew how (according to research done by Berlin Cameron and Ellevate Network in 2018 #womensupportingwomen). Through the championing of this space as a means to solve the disparity of education Minkoff has brought together a team of 70 women (and nine men) to support over 4,000 women-led companies. Part of her plan towards creating a “game over” for gender inequality.
It is statistically proven that women in business invest in other women, women may represent half of the population, but they hold more than half of the opportunity for growth. If the employment participation gap and wage gap were closed (currently 80 cents to the dollar for cisgendered white women, and astronomically lower for non-binary women of color) women could globally increase their income by almost 76 percent.
This is an unprecedented amount of economic power, both as consumers and as proprietors.
The female founder experience is unique in its challenges in that women fight representation and history. The shared story of grit as a female entrepreneur was echoed by the women of the panel.
Founding their companies through a myriad of experiences, spanning bootstrapping to fully supported environments, the women of the panel all spoke to the importance of creating a support system as you hustle.
Consistency, and acknowledging your place in the economy by defining your product market fit were also on the list, but the most important thing they spoke to was action. It is the only thing that can propel you from a future founder to a founder.
Whether you are a woman or an ally there are things you can practice in your day to day life to support the end of fiscal gender inequality (because women should be celebrated and supported for more than one month of the year):
Seek out female-founded companies, at home and when you travel
Support is not limited to capital, invest your time and skills with female founders
Share the love, when you see female-founded companies shout it out
There are currently over 11.6 million firms owned by women in the US, this translates to over 9 trillion jobs, but the Female Founder Collective has only touched 4,000 of them.
If you are a female founder interested in becoming a part of a network that will support and celebrate you apply to be a part of Minkoff’s Female Founder Collective. To learn more about the Female Founder Collective events and happenings, or to learn more about the community, head over to their facebook page.