Value black female entrepreneurs
Sacramento’s success depends on women of color in business
Women of color are the bedrock on which our community stands, especially as entrepreneurs.
They often start their own business because the traditional workplace is not set up to accommodate women who are often caregivers with a non-standard schedule. Many women of color also go into business because they are tired of the gender pay gap. While white women in California earn 79 cents for every $1 earned by white men, black women only get 59 cents. And many black women entrepreneurs want to avoid unaddressed microaggressions that our society too often accepts in workplaces.
Businesses owned by women of color benefit the community by serving other disadvantaged or underrepresented segments. Our own studies show that their business proposals are focused on the health and wellness of others in their communities.
But women of color often have different needs than white female entrepreneurs, yet get lumped in with them. When this happens, the needs of women of color get pushed to the bottom and are not addressed. This is a problem for Sacramento.
What’s so important about women of color who are entrepreneurs? While the number of female-owned businesses grew by 114 percent from 1997 to 2017, firms owned by women of color increased by 467 percent.
This is an amazing opportunity for Sacramento that has gone unrecognized and is undervalued. Institutions that cater to entrepreneurs often lack the knowledge to recognize and understand the special needs of businesses started by women of color. Their very distinct needs are swept away in the generalities.
In April 2018, the Brookings Institution released a study commissioned by the city that concluded that Sacramento is on an upward trajectory for economic prosperity, but that one factor jeopardizing this growth is a lack of racial inclusion. Investing in women of color entrepreneurs can ease this concern.
Our own studies show that, when asked what barriers to success they face, women of color cite the difficulty of being female in male-dominated industries. More than a quarter of those surveyed said they wanted a mentor to show them the ropes of creating and succeeding in business, and others identified a lack of access to funding.
Recognizing these needs and increasing resources to make businesses owned by women of color successful will make Sacramento more economically successful as a whole.