Gender equality is an issue in Australian business. Figures from the Australian Institute of Company Directors indicate that the percentage of women on the boards of the top 200 ASX companies for example remains at just 20.1% in 2015.
But although at the highest level women still remain woefully underrepresented, the picture is brighter among small businesses.
According to the latest federal government data, 93.3% per cent of Australian businesswomen are working in the small business arena, with women making up around a third of all Australian business owners (406,400).
Here are six interesting facts about women in business.
1. Women want mentors
An Australian survey found 52% of women say access to mentors would help their business success. Mentors are entrepreneurs themselves who have been through the process of setting up their own business, especially women who have penetrated male business networks.
2. Women don’t pay themselves a wage
Research by the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2013 showed 51% of female business owners did not pay themselves a wage. However, the number of women running a business rose by 8.9 per cent in that year, while the figure for men dropped by 3.7 per cent.
3. Who is Australia’s richest self-made woman?
No, it’s not Gina – she inherited her fortune. Our richest self-made woman is Vicky Teoh who started TPG Telecom with her husband David. According to BRW, Teoh is worth $938 million.
4. Start-ups are ready for women
Australia received a rating of 69 in the 2015 Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, which means conditions are right for women to make an entrepreneurial impact in the technology start-up revolution. The US topped the ranking at 71 out of 100, but a majority of the 31 countries scored less than 50.
5. Will you join the 30% club?
In May 2015, the Australian branch of the 30% Club opened. The organisation aims to have 30% women on ASX 200 boards by 2018. The club also supports a better gender balance at all levels of management, and believes voluntary rather than mandatory quotas are the best remedy for gender imbalance. In the UK, the figure for women directors of FTSE-100 companies is 22.8 per cent.
6. Women are tech savvy
Business women are taking advantage of cloud-based technology. This can include using programs and storing data in the cloud, as well as virtual services such as online faxing. Online faxing allows business people to fax from a PC or even a smart phone. Documents (up to 1GB) can be attached, and faxes are stored for free in the cloud.
In fact, the 2014 MYOB Business Monitor study found that women running SMEs are tech-savvy all round. According to the study, 59% have an online presence compared to 50% of their male counterparts, while 35% use the cloud, slightly edging out the men again.
Turning potential into business practice
While it remains to be seen whether the gender imbalance at the top is addressed, what is clear is that small business is vital for the economy, and women are a valuable contributor.