Over 80 CEOs Wrote an Open Letter to the Future President to Help Women Entrepreneurs
Silicon Valley hasn't exactly been quiet about politics lately. But with the election only a week away, a group of more than 80 entrepreneurs, CEOs, and thought leaders published a refreshingly non-partisan policy proposal that urges the next president to make women entrepreneurs a domestic policy priority.
It's addressed to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and signed by the likes of Ellevest founder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck, Giphy CEO and co-founder Alex Chung, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving, and Honest co-founders Jessica Alba and Brian Lee. The group outlines incentives, awareness campaigns, and process improvements the next president can implement to support women business owners.
"If women and men participated equally in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the United States' GDP could rise by $30 billion," reads the letter, which was published on Dell's corporate blog. It cites a 2015 study by the McKinsey Global Institute.
The letter goes on to say that though women start businesses at twice the rate of men, they receive only seven percent of all venture funding. (Some sources cite an even lower number: 2.7 percent.) They further say women are the subject of only 7 percent of media coverage.
Without the same funding and awareness opportunities, the group says, women entrepreneurs fail at a higher rate than men. Here are three things the next president can do to help women founders succeed.
1. Invest with both cash funding and business deals.
Awareness of and incentives for participation in existing programs--both public and private--are the group's main concerns when it comes to ramping up funding for women entrepreneurs. The letter calls for an investment in the marketing and expansion of government programs such as grants, loans, and certifications for women-owned businesses.
The government can also provide incentives for private sector venture capital or private equity investments in women entrepreneurs. And federal agencies should be encouraged to increase the percentage of contracts they award to women-owned businesses. Additionally, the group asks that vendor payment cycles be shortened to 30 days--a third of the 90-day window the government currently has to pay up.
Finally, the group requests government support for the modernization of capital sources--such as crowdfunding and impact investments--and for family-friendly workplace policies like affordable child care and paid family leave.
2. Boost global and local representation.
As technology breaks down barriers for globalization, this group wants to make sure the government is doing its part to facilitate safe, cross-border transfers of goods and data. While the group calls for liberalization of trade, it also calls for privacy protections and improved information security.
On a local scale, women need support in their communities in the form of networking, accelerators, and training. The group calls for encouraging more women on boards, executive teams, leadership conferences, and in media coverage.
3. Use technology to eliminate bias and improve efficiency.
Government inefficiency is an oft-cited barrier to business success, so the group asks the government to simplify the paperwork and bureaucracy for processes like certifications and patents.
Additionally, the group would ask for help engaging companies in workplace diversity training to curb bias. It would also request more general entrepreneurship training--whether it's an emphasis on STEM subjects at an early age or communication of technological options available to women entrepreneurs--helping place more power in the hands of this underutilized economic force.