A Female Success Story; More Women Own Businesses Than Ever

More businesses than ever are owned by women in the U.S.

Women have been starting businesses at a rate twice as high as the national average according to Census Bureau date released in January, stated research.

The number of companies owned by women shot up by 20 percent nationally and 24 percent in California between 1997 and 2002, according to a recent article.

The number of women-owned businesses also increased in most parts of the Bay Area of San Francisco, CA, said the article.

By 2002 women owned 6.5 million businesses or about 30 percent of all U.S. nonfarm companies, according to Ilana DeBare, a writer.

“Like businesses in general, the vast majority were single-person enterprises,” DeBare reports. “But a growing number were midsize and large companies.”

DeBare said experts said the current boom in women’s business ownership is part of a trend that began several decades ago.

She stated that in the 1970s and 80s the feminist movement opened new doors for women into all kinds of professions.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, some women chose to leave corporate jobs and start businesses as a way to gain time for their families.

“For women with some corporate experience one thing that has tended to be a real barrier is not having much control over their time,” said Jonathan Leonard, a professor at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, in the article.

Leonard added that meanwhile women’s entrepreneurship was being encouraged by government initiatives such as programs to set aside a certain percentage of contracts for women- and minority-owned businesses.

“As more and more women started their own businesses, banks started providing capital, markets started opening up to them, and women became involved in established networks for expertise, coaching and referrals,” said Sharon Hadary, executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research in Washington in a recent interview.

Cynthia Persico is the president/CEO of Corporate Care Works (CCW), Inc. in Jacksonville, FL. CCW is a high-quality employee assistance program (EAP) and people development firm. Incorporated in 1990 the company is employee-owned and operated.

“The people make the partnership and that is what is unique about CCW – our people,” said Persico. “Our team is famous for going the extra mile routinely to ‘WOW’ our customers whether it is a counselor researching what a family needs for ongoing care, a scheduling professional offering a quicker-than-expected appointment, or our account management team finding ongoing ways to solve additional Human Resources challenges for our customers, we make it happen.”

CCW has success stories from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida, the Naval Air Station, the City of Jacksonville, Toyota, JM Family/Southeast Toyota to name a few and their services are completely confidential, voluntary, and free.

The company also provides training and development for change management, team building, leadership development, and a variety of other topics, according to their website, corporatecareworks.com.

“Our mission is to help our customers be their best by preventing and solving the people problems that can get in the way of productivity,” the site states.

“CCW is easy to work with and ready to help us in many areas besides the traditional EAP,” Jim Gajewski, vice president, Human Resources at Elkins Construction said.

Today we are faced with challenges and stressors that didn’t exist a few decades ago, according to CCW literature.

Clients call the CCW office and a client services team member matches them with an EAP provider near their home or work.

The company has a 24-hour CARELINE with counsel from licenses professionals, multiple site locations, short-term problem resolution, and referrals to community resources among other services.

In the hotel business there are cracks in the glass ceiling.

Hotels are opening doors for women in management.

When Karima Zaki started in the hotel industry as a management trainee, she knew she wanted to be general manager of a big hotel someday, according to a recent article.

About 25 percent of general managers at the 64 major and boutique hotels that belong to the San Francisco Hotel Council are women, according to Patricia Breslin, the council’s executive director, in the article.

Nationally, the percentage of female GMs is even higher, according to research.

“People don’t know what hoteliers do,” Zaki said in a recent interview.

Industry experts suggest a number of reasons why women appear to be finding hotels a prime point of entry to the executive suite, according to writer David Armstrong.

For one thing, more women than men now graduate from hotel management schools, said Armstrong.

Such programs in turn create a deeper talent pool of female executives than in years past, writes Armstrong.

Moreover, industry experts say, there are now serious diversity and mentoring programs at the major hotel chains, wrote Armstrong.

Beverly Hills-based Hilton, for example, employs an executive coach who helps steer top management prospects into the areas they’re most interested in and suited for, Zaki stated.

The corporation, she explained, has a program called the Balance Scorecard that, among other things, tracks the proportion of purchases that the company makes from woman-and-minority-owned vendors, and promotes diversity in Hilton hires.

“There’s some serious recognition of gender diversity, ethnic diversity, even age diversity on Hilton’s part,” Zaki said in an email.

Zaki, who is part Egyptian and German and is the single mother of a ten-year-old daughter, has worked for Hilton since the 1980s.

“Zaki is planning to extend a major renovation of the San Francisco Hilton’s 333 O’Farrell Street building,” said Armstrong.

“There’s definitely some physical retooling that needs to be done,” Zaki reported.

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