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Why Women Matter to Industry Research

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Why Women Matter to Industry Research

The ideas about what truly matters to the success of a business are as varied as businesses themselves. However, amid all of the conflicting ideas regarding how to make an organization truly stand out, industry research remains a foundational method of achieving success.  

Truly, business owners are only able to succeed when they are able to understand who their customers are and how they can provide a distinct product or service to that customer base. Given the nature of that connection between an organization’s relationship with customers and its success, the reality of the power that women have in the marketplace and the necessity of having female leadership within organizations must be addressed.

How Industry Research Can Shape a Business

A company that isn’t an expert on its own inner-workings and the industry it operates within is positioning itself for failure from the very beginning. Not only that, but the unprecedented ease with which data can be obtained and used makes that type of oversight inexcusable. If a company fails in this regard, they will fail overall, because it is guaranteed that their competitors are doing it.

As Matt Ehrlichman wrote for Entrepreneur about today’s data-driven business world, “To build a really successful business operation you need to know you are going to be able to accurately measure your business. Beyond just understanding your key performance indicators (KPIs), are you developing a business where key decisions are made through the use of good, quality data?”

Utilizing the information that data provides can help you better understand:

Your Customers. Industry research matters because it is one of the best ways to understand who your customers are.

In the words of Katie McBeth for Fiscal Tiger, “Every business is dependent on its customers. No business plan is complete without considering who your customers will be and what need you will be addressing.”

The more adept a company is at seeing what matters to customers and what drives them to commit, the more likely that company will be able to actually deliver on those expectations.

Your Finances. Just as you analyze the specifics of the industry you conduct business in, analysis of the financial component of a business must always be happening. The financial component provides a gauge of success as well as an important foundation for setting future goals.

According to the business experts at Ohio University, “Business growth depends on the accurate and timely analysis of financial statements.”

If you’re not using analytics to survey your finances, then you’ll ultimately overlook information that is key to the growth of your company.

Your Products. Research demonstrates how what you offer compares to the rest of the industry. We’ve pointed out before, “A company’s ability to innovate, in many ways, is synonymous with a company's ability to remain relevant and competitive.”

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Research can show you what those innovations should look like in relation to the services and products that your company offers. It demonstrates the strengths and the weaknesses of what you currently have so that you can continually refine your offerings.

Your Marketing. Even if you know who your customers are, what they want, and how to deliver products that meet their needs you still must employ a marketing strategy that effectively draws people in and convinces them that your organization is the best choice.

In the words of GoingClear Interactive, it “positions you well to close sales as people are considering their options and making their purchases down the line.”

Essentially, the right marketing will connect you with customers, but even more than that it will create an impression that lends itself to long-term loyalty in those customers. Industry research is a valuable way to ensure that your organization is using marketing methods that work and leaving behind those that don’t.

The Power of the Female Growth Market

What industry research will inevitably tell a business in the overwhelming majority of industries is that one of the most significant common threads amongst those in their target audience is that their customers are women.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Globally, they (women) control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, and that figure could climb as high as $28 trillion in the next five years … Women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined—more than twice as big, in fact. Given those numbers, it would be foolish to ignore or underestimate the female consumer. And yet many companies do just that, even ones that are confident they have a winning strategy when it comes to women.”

There once was a time when the spending women controlled was limited to specific types of industries, and thus marketing efforts reflected that reality. However, that’s no longer the case, yet many businesses are still lagging behind in terms of recognizing that they have an untapped target audience in women.

For example, when Washington State University overviewed emerging industries, they noted that over 6.4 million women are responsible for the growing popularity of fantasy sports. And yet, that is exactly the type of industry wherein business leaders may be failing to connect with potential customers.

The Need for Female Leadership

When considering the value of industry research in addition to the impressive amount of power that female customers hold over many industries, what should end up being recognized is just how crucial it is for companies to employ female leadership. If you’re in an industry wherein the bulk of your customer base is female, and there is no female representation on your team, you’re missing out of untold amounts of profit.

“If women make up a significant portion of your customer base, they should be represented on your management team. Research shows that companies with gender-balanced teams have a higher ROI,” writes Bridget Brennan for Forbes.

Hopefully, as the shifting reality of consumer demographics continues to make headlines, companies will continue to change how they operate and fill their ranks as well. While there are certainly still reasons to harbor pessimistic ideas about the way that the business world relates to women, there is also industry research-backed reason to believe that it will continue to evolve into a more receptive place.

If for no other reason than that the numbers are in, and women are out-influencing their peers in a myriad of industries. What that means is that even those companies that have been the least likely to take professional women seriously are going to have to begin to do so if they want to have any meaningful competitive edge in the future of their industry.

 

WiB: Why Women Matter to Business Innovation

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Why Women Matter to Business Innovation

If a business knows what's good for them, they know that innovation must continually be in the crosshairs. A company’s ability to innovate, in many ways, is synonymous with a company's ability to remain relevant and competitive.

Indeed, as Theodore Henderson put it for Forbes, “Innovation is vital in the workplace because it gives companies an edge in penetrating markets faster and provides a better connection to developing markets, which can lead to bigger opportunities, especially in rich countries.

Innovation can also help develop original concepts while giving the innovator a proactive, confident attitude to take risks and get things done.”

A company may continue to use time-tested methods to remain consistent, but innovation promotes real growth for an organization. For some companies looking for viable ways to accomplish that, the best place to focus first isn’t the drawing board but the staffing assignments. For some, women are the best ways to generate solid innovations as a company.

Women Bring Perspective

Companies that fail to hire women are companies that fail to bring considerable perspective as well. Organizations know that good employees matter.

Indeed as Annette Sugden writes for BizIQ, “A business’s success is not only measured by the number of customers it serves, but also by the quality of the employees it has. Great employees help run your business more effectively, suggest innovative changes and make lasting impressions on your customers that could influence whether or not they return.”

But when it comes to women, they’re the first demographic a company is likely to overlook. According to the Center for American Progress while women hold nearly 52 percent of professional-level jobs, they trail well behind men in leadership roles in virtually every industry.

Not only that, but when women do lead, they’re paid less to do it. The financial experts at Earnest note, “Across all job titles included in the analysis, women earn a median of 92 cents on the dollar compared to men—a pay gap of 8 cents. When managing teams or people in upper-management roles, women earn a median of 83 cents for every dollar earned by men with the same job title—a pay gap of 17 cents.”

Beyond the obvious lack of equality those numbers portray, they also point to the reality that companies are missing out on leadership that could bring the right perspective to their organizations and as a result could bolster innovation.

When the Harvard Business Review overviewed how women contribute to business growth, they reported, “Women represent a growth market more than twice as big as China and India combined. They control $20 trillion in global consumer spending, own or operate between 25-33% of all private businesses, and earn an estimated $13 trillion.”

And yet, the numbers point to the reality that businesses are failing to tap into the demographic that best understands the individuals wielding that $13 trillion in spending power. Thus, a straightforward way for organizations to harness that consumer loyalty is to hire the employees who can best understand the perspective of those consumers.

Women Have the Right Professional and Educational Experience

Historically, the case could be made that women weren’t filling the same roles that men were in the highest levels of business because they were not bringing the same caliber of experience to the table. However, that’s no longer the case.

Since the 1970s, women have outnumbered men on college campuses. If the disparity continues at the same rate, women will by far be the more educated demographic. Additionally, women are now being employed in the sectors that grant them the experience needed for leadership across a wide array of industries.

As John Mayer writes for business.com, “Women have made great strides in technology, sales, marketing and creative arts … Their collective presence is not only creating logistical advancements in the marketplace, but also serving as motivation for young up-and-comers. Tech-specific expertise has been a leading factor in women entering e-commerce oriented businesses; a trend that is sure to continue.

Thus, as organizations pursue innovation, they would do well to recognize the largest asset to their company may simply be a shift in roles. At its very core, innovation is the pairing of creativity and novelty, which must come together in a practical manner. It only makes sense that if you’re looking for those things, you’ll use resources you haven’t considered before.

Women Need to Be Supported

The last important component to note is that even when women are given the positions and the correct compensation for those positions, it only matters when their contributions are valued appropriately.

Women in the professional realm have faced a long history of not being taken seriously. It’s important to recognize that companies often save face by putting women in roles which, from the outside, appear significant. Only those working within the organization are able to spot discrepancies.

For those reasons, it’s crucial that businesses recognize that just having women there will not suffice. Instead, companies must cultivate a work culture that promotes individuals speaking up and affords equal opportunity to individuals across every demographic. Men and women alike should be quick to do what they can to take women in professional roles seriously.

Additionally, if organizations are truly going to invest in filling their ranks with women, they also need to be quick to accept how a woman’s career path may look different from a man’s.

In a piece entitled “Why Women Are Rarely Serial Innovators,” Melissa Schilling wrote for The Wall Street Journal, “This doesn’t mean that mothers cannot be important innovators, but it might mean that their careers play out differently. Their years of intense focus might start later, or they might ebb and surge over time. The more we can do to enable people to have nonlinear career paths, the more we will increase innovation among women—and productivity more generally.”

The point being that a business would do well to recognize that if they pass over some women because of something like a nonlinear career path, they may be passing over one of their best chances at true innovation. The Marie Curies and Grace Hoppers of the world had to choose between family and career. Who knows what they would have accomplished if that tension wasn’t there? Who knows what a business could accomplish if it made sure that tension was never part of the equation?

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We Can Do ItWomen have been working together to strive for a better community since before the days of the Suffragettes. Though we’ve had some tough barriers to overcome, women have continued to push for opportunities to improve their communities and the world. The future for women in business is becoming brighter and brighter, with contributions from women throughout the world.

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Beyond the Pay Gap: Gender Inequalities in Business Financing

Salary InequalitiesThough the climate of inequality for women is progressing to become more mild, it still wreaks constant havoc for women in the business industry. Though we have been fighting to break the glass ceiling for a long time, it is no secret that women still get paid less than men, and the inequalities don’t stop there.

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