May 3, 2018, Stamford, CT – The Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC), the largest not-for-profit organization in Connecticut dedicated to women’s economic equity, yesterday hosted its 5th Annual Women-Owned Business Day at the State Capitol sponsored by The Hartford.
Taking place during “Small Business Week,” WBDC’s largest advocacy event drew a crowd of nearly 200 Connecticut women business owners who had the opportunity to network with national and state leaders. 134 of the 185 members of the Connecticut legislature lent their support to the event as members of the host committee.
At the event, Fran Pastore, CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council released the results of the organization’s recent survey on the state of women-owned businesses in Connecticut. The survey results represent responses from 458 individuals, most of whom are women business owners.
Among its findings, the survey found that:
Women business owners claim access to capital (25%), lack of start-up knowledge (20%) and the need to gain credibility (18%) as the three biggest challenges they faced when launching their own business;
The top-three skill sets that women business owners felt that they most needed to gain or strengthen in order for their business to thrive included financial skills (selected by 61%), marketing skills (58%), and how to seek capital (43%).
Women business owners said that their three primary reasons for starting their own business were for personal fulfillment (62%), freedom to work for themselves (57%), and to gain more flexibility with their family (40%);
81% of responding women business owners anticipate their business revenues to increase over the next five years and 60% expect to increase the number of employees at their business to increase within the next five years.
“Perhaps most the most shocking data,” said Pastore at the event, “are the figures on workplace harassment, sexism, and racism. More than two-thirds (68%) of the women business owners who responded say they have personally experienced the glass ceiling at some point in their career. And two-thirds (64%) also say they have experienced workplace harassment at some point in their career. And the vast majority, 88%, of those who have identified themselves in the survey as minority women business owners report having experienced racism at some point in their career,” said Pastore. “These are societal issues that impact the world of women at work and the advancement of obtaining economic equity.”
Additional key statistics can be found at https://ctwbdc.org/blog-post/state-of-women-owned-businesses-in-ct-survey. A full report of stats can be emailed upon request.
The event was highlighted by a fireside chat with Kathy McShane, U.S. Small Business Association’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership; Patricia Russo, Executive Director, Women’s Campaign School at Yale and Susan Johnson, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at The Hartford and moderated by Pastore.
“When we look at the challenges that women face to opening their own business, what we often hear as the biggest barrier is simply a lack of confidence,” said Kathy McShane. “And if you don’t have confidence, it is extremely difficult to begin.”
Patricia Russo said, “We used to say that the number one barrier to women running (for office) is fundraising, but it really is confidence. And it’s something we just started to talk about. And the thing about fear is that when you talk about it, the fear dissipates.”
The event also paid tribute to the 30th anniversary of the passage of HR 50/50-the landmark legislation that gave women the right to secure capital for commercial purposes in their own name without a male cosigner.
“Yet despite our progress only 30 years ago,” said Pastore, “more than half of the women business owners in our survey said that they ‘do not agree’ that women business owners have the same accessibility to capital as male business owners. These findings resonate with what women around the country experience as well. Programs which enable women to access capital are a key recommendation in the National Women’s Business Council’s Annual Report to Congress, The President and the SBA. Clearly, there is much more work ahead of us.”
The 2018 Women-Owned Business Day was co-chaired by House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and Assistant Majority Leader Patricia Billie Miller and the event’s Delegation Partners include The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Connecticut Innovations (CI), reSET, the University of Hartford Women’s Business Center, The Refinery, West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, and the Connecticut Small Business Development Center.
About the Women’s Business Development Council:
Headquartered in Stamford with satellite offices in Derby and New London, the 501 (c)(3) non-profit has served nearly 19,000 clients. It has assisted in the creation of nearly 1,800 businesses and supported the sustainability and expansion of 3,800 established businesses, creating more than 4,900 jobs. For more information on the Women’s Business Development Council, visit ctwbdc.org.