Kelsey Ramsden, Founder, www.kelseyramsden.com, and SparkPlay, London, ON
Someone recently asked me how I feel about the special attention that is being paid to women entrepreneurs these days and if I think it helps or hinders women’s want to be taken seriously as business people.
My prompt and passionate reply went something like this:
I am proud to be a woman in business and am grateful for the interest that is being shown for what women can and are contributing to the vision, values, culture and bottom line of business.
I think Global Women Entrepreneurship Day is something to be celebrated because for a brief moment, attention is paid which allows some of the unique messages on the success women can bring to the boardroom to simmer to the forefront.
I want to take a moment to mention that to me – I see the topic of men and woman in business as a cultural discussion. Just as we openly discuss the differences doing business with different cultures, we should feel open to view the culture of women as simply another way of engaging in and doing business.
I can tell you that according to a recent Credit Suisse Institute study, companies with greater proportion of women in boards and in positions of influence returned higher bottom lines and better balance sheets. This applies not only to publicly traded but also to privately owned and operated businesses.
There are a host of reasons why these bottom line results are being delivered and are worth understanding. Though I do not have the space to get into all of them, I will discuss just three that I know have directly impacted the bottom line of the companies I have founded and operated:
We all have it, intuition. Men and women alike have the same amount of it, the difference is that women tend to not only listen but act on intuition more. Intuition is simply the sum of all our experiences, drawn upon in a way whereby one cannot pinpoint the exact moment or top three reasons why we ‘know’ something – we just know it.
When men have a tendency to want hard provable lists of facts to support their decisions, women tend to be more comfortable relying in part on the ‘knowing’ – the intuitive piece of running businesses. They allow a larger space in for sum of all of their experiences to direct them as opposed to specific instances alone.
Trust is Key
I believe that every human transaction is fundamentally based on trust. Whether it is whom we buy our tea from, which agent we go through at the market, who we marry and which we do business with – we feel the most confident in our decisions when we proceed with the person we feel we can trust most. On mass, women as a culture, tend to allow decisions to be made with a longer-term view of working with whom they trust, even though in the short term, the numbers might be less appealing. It matters most that the other party can be trusted.
As we start up and scale up our businesses, we learn how very much relationships rule and that what matters so much more than collecting business cards is truly connecting with people. Authentic connection with the intent of developing a relationship is what drives the very best networking and access to insights and opportunities outside of traditional business circles of influence.
Because relationships rank so very high on metrics that matter for women, who tend to take a longer term view of business success, it is relationship building that has allowed women access to great networks of resources, capital and people which, without relationship development, would not have been available to her in her management of her business.
My bottom line is bolstered because of these three reasons: I use my intuition, I develop relationships for the long term, and I work to develop and maintain trust and integrity in all I do.
I do believe men and women do business differently. I do not think that what women do could not be done by men or vice versa. What I do believe is that women bring a certain culture to the table, a different window through which to see the same situations and in bringing this different experience and different insight mix, we bring an asset to any business…..after all, ingenuity, versatility and adaptation all require variance of thought, so to me, highlighting the unique talents women can bring is a natural. I am proud to be a woman in business and am proud to work with men, women and every culture that can bright new and valuable insights to this ever changing landscape we call global entrepreneurship.