February 20, 2020  |  Written By Jennifer San Fillippo

One of the current trends has been a focus on women’s empowerment issues. From celebrities to Main Street, we are celebrating women and their increased importance in our society. Recognizing these trends and their impact on our economy applies to all businesses. Manufacturing, engineering, medical, and professional services need to realize that women are gaining ground and slowly, but surely, becoming the majority. Businesses need to be aware of who they are selling to, as well as, the needs of their target audience. In doing so, it will not only benefit the business, but our communities overall. As the famous industrialist, Henry J. Kaiser, said, “Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”  By getting in front of the “problems” that these women’s issues represent, businesses will have a phenomenal opportunity for growth.

Equality is the current mantra of many women across the U.S. and has been highly publicized in the media. During my 29 years as a woman in a highly male-dominated field, there have been many moments where I felt overlooked despite my education, experience, and qualifications. I have also had situations where I was overlooked in deference to my husband.  While such actions were completely normal and accepted 30 years ago, the opposite is becoming more evident today.

What can we do in the era of these movements, and their focus on empowering women to improve outcomes? Many people may shy away from the concept and think it will blow over.  The reality is that today women are demanding to be heard as equals to men. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation on health, the current population of the U.S. in 2017 consisted of only two states (Alaska and North Dakota) where the male population outranked the female population. Women are now in the majority. The reality is that as we make progress toward equal pay for equal work, and women make strides in confidence of self, we, as businesses, need to recognize that women are of great importance to our economy and the lifeblood of our existence. This applies not only to consumer driven business but also to business that relies on innovation. Women bring a different perspective to the table.

Lakeside has recognized this for many years. Lakeside has several executive level women playing an integral role in our firm’s every day success. In addition, we take pride in providing women centric opportunities in our community to learn about finances, advance in knowledge, and build confidence in areas where confidence may be a struggle. But this is not necessarily a common occurrence. 

I mentioned previously that I am a minority in the financial services field. Recently, we had a nationally recognized company come into our offices and speak at length about the power of the woman consumer. (This was a group of SIX MEN.) They acknowledged that women are increasingly taking charge of family finances including everything from day-to-day to long-term investing. However, what they also acknowledged is that most financial advisors will only focus on the male in the room and not the female. In today’s world, that could prove to be a huge mistake. This is even more important as women tend to outlive men and eventually will be the only consumer of a family.  

Bottom line, it’s time for a change in the business culture to ensure that our economy remains strong. It truly is a culture change and instead of shying away, we should embrace the fact that women are making businesses stronger through their ideas, education, perspectives, and finally, as consumers. Previously overlooked or given less credence, women as a group are now a force to be reckoned with.   The only thing left to ask is – Are you ready to embrace societal change for the betterment of your business? 

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