The Economic Clout of Women-led Businesses: Now Stronger than Ever

36% of employer firms are either women-owned or women-led.

women in the boardroom
infographic by the National Women’s Business Council illustrating the economic clout of women-led businesses.

“Successful women-led businesses have a variety of trajectories and strategies for growth, and there is no one right way to grow a business,” said Emily K. Bruno, Research and Policy Director for NWBC.  “We’ve seen that in many cases, successful women entrepreneurs running high-growth companies have chosen to give up equity in order to raise capital. While women-led businesses are less than 51% owned by women, women still have a significant leadership position and ownership within the company, and this matters.”

The infographic is the second in a series that NWBC is producing utilizing its original research and new data sources from the Census Bureau.

Important highlights from the infographic include:

  • Women have a greater economic impact than most think – 36% of employer firms are either women-owned or women-led. 17.5% of employer businesses are 51% owned by one or more women. Yet, 18.8% of employer firms are at least 30% owned by women and have a woman in a leadership role. When those two numbers are added together, women’s economic impact is much clearer. That makes 36% of employer firms either women-owned or women-led. When not focusing on women’s leadership roles within a company, the numbers look even better. 42.4% of businesses are at least 30% owned by women. These firms capture 26.1% or $2.6 trillion in receipts.
  • Successful women-led businesses have a variety of trajectories and strategies for growth. There is no one right way to grow. NWBC shows that firms with more owners make more money. Additionally, women and men-owned firms that have owners of the other gender perform better when looking at median receipts than firms owned just by men or women. Despite this, women do not take on partners as much as men do; 89% of firms entirely owned by women have just one owner.
  • A broader definition of women in business better captures their true economic impact. There are a growing number of women who have founded and grown multi-million and even billion dollar businesses. More often than not, these women have partnered with investors and no longer own 51% of their company. The success and economic impact of these women is discounted when we focus on 51% ownership.

The infographic is the second in a series that NWBC is producing utilizing its original research and new data sources from the Census Bureau.

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