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Women on executive boards and women-owned businesses

July 23, 2015, 8:23 am

According to “Harnessing the Power of the Purse: Female Investors and Global Opportunities For Growth,” a 2014 survey from the Center For Talent Innovation, women control $11.2 trillion, or 39 percent, of investable assets in the U.S.  Yet, while women are gaining strength in workforce numbers, we are still grossly under-represented both in business ownership and in top level positions of Corporate America.

Shelley Ford

Shelley Ford

Female respondents to the same study were 44 percent less likely than the male respondents to consider themselves financially knowledgeable. Perhaps it is our own fear of debt and leverage that is preventing women-owned businesses growing as quickly as male-owned businesses; according to Biz2Credit, an online credit marketplace, businesses owned by men generated about 50% more revenue ($193,268) on average than women-owned businesses in 2013. Further, average earnings for male-owned businesses were 55% higher ($105,805) than for companies owned by females. The next time you are looking to make that next step into success, consider partnering with strategic investors and lenders to help you expand and grow your business. More successful women-owned businesses could foster changes in other areas such as the gender gap and the representation of women on paid boards of directors.

There has also been a great deal of discussion around board diversity in the U.S. and the idea of mandating quotas for board seats for women. Nationally, women hold approximately 19.2 percent of the board seats for the S&P 500 companies, according to the 2014 Catalyst Census. For Colorado-based, publicly traded companies, this number drops to nine percent (The Women’s Leadership Foundation). It’s clear that more representation is needed, but how can this be achieved?

One idea under consideration is imposing term limits. Executive board term limits could force the idea of change and adoption of fresh ideas at a top level.  According to a 2012 Spencer Stuart survey, only four percent of S&P 500 boards specified term limits. However, there is more than enough market research to make a strong case to corporations that this is necessary to the continued growth of their businesses. This type of action could also lend itself to having more women represented in high-level executive positions of the company.

Finally as representation of women continues to grow in the workforce, we must remember to support workforce flexibility as well. Current Department of Labor statistics show that 70 percent of women with children under 18 years old participate in the workforce. Women often have to take absences from the workforce while they care for children and elderly parents. They also typically outlive their male spouses. These considerations should be incorporated into the every corporation’s human resources guidelines.

As women, we bring a different perspective and attitude to the business landscape.  My hope is that with continued discussions such as these, we will see actionable change in the marketplace.

 If you’d like to learn more, please contact Shelley Ford, a financial advisor with The Pelican Bay Group of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in downtown Denver.  Shelley can be reached at 303-572-4839 or visit

The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.  Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.

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