How to support women-led businesses (and why it matters)

- March 8, 2023 3 MIN READ


As a woman, it is incredibly important for me to work for a business that role models to future generations of women what it looks like to wear the title of Founder and CEO, writes Charlotte Rush, head of product at Inventium.

I am part of a generation of women that, for years, has been told to ‘lean-in’. We are told we can be the CEO of a mammoth organisation AND be a mum who is home in time to tuck the kids in.

However, women currently lead just 2.8 per cent of the world’s top 500 companies. Instead of fighting to break through the glass ceiling, more and more women are starting their own businesses. This allows them to lead by their own rules.

Unfortunately, while women-led businesses may be able to circumvent the ever-present gender pay gap, they are facing yet another challenge – the gender investment gap. Research by BCG found that startups founded and cofounded by women out-performed male-founded companies (generating 10 per cent more in cumulative revenue over a five-year period). However, investment into women founded/cofounded companies was 55 per cent less than their male counterparts.

How to support women-led businesses

So, women-led businesses need our support. Short of working in venture capital yourself, here are four tips for how you can support women-led businesses:

1. Become a cheerleader

Through education, mentoring and support, Global Sisters helps women to start their own businesses. Many of these women are unable to participate in mainstream employment or access decent, sustainable work. So, Global Sisters seeks to make self-employment the best viable option. You can help their Sisters gain momentum by being a supporter and cheerleader – once per fortnight for a quarter as a Momentum Coach, or you can donate money to their cause.

2. Work for one, or consume from one!

Next time you are looking for a new role, think about prioritising organisations that are led or founded by women. Or, look for organisations with an even allocation of women at the top. After all, the work you do is funding their salaries.

If you are happy where you are, you can purchase innovations created by women. The Global Sisters Marketplace allows you to purchase directly from a small business owned by a female entrepreneur, with everything from products, to services and unique experiences.

3. Create confidence in the women who work for you

Asking for and receiving my first pay rise was one of my proudest early-career moments. I was lucky enough to be asking a boss I trusted and respected greatly, but not all women will have the confidence to ask and the skills to succeed.

PepTalkHer is a startup founded by Aussie Meggie Palmer that works with women (download the free app here) and companies to help women negotiate pay rises and fast-track career success. As a leader, you can use PepTalkHer to give the women in your team the best chance of succeeding in the future by training them in how to negotiate for a pay rise. Just be prepared to enter into negotiations in the next performance review!

4. Invest in companies that are solving problems for women

Women’s health is having a huge and long-awaited moment as a fast-growing industry to invest in. Never before have there been so many options available for women when it comes to menstruation, fertility and general wellbeing.

Why not use your monthly menstruation to purchase from Fempowered – a sustainable period subscription box. One hundred percent of their profits are donated to WaterAid, who are also working to transform women’s lives by providing clean water and decent toilets. Not menstruating? You can purchase toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap, a WaterAid partner.

Finally, check out SuperSuper – the first rewards program helping women and their families save more to their super, every day, without increasing their cost of living. As a reminder, women retire with just over half the superannuation savings of men.

Women-led businesses continue to face challenges unlike that of their male counterparts. But, using the tips above, everyday people can make decisions to support these businesses and women to thrive.

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Now read this:

“Disappointing”: Why it’s easier for men to grow a business than women in Australia