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How Women Have Evolved The Business World?

by Bani Banerjee
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How Women Have Evolved The Business World | Womopreneur

Anna Sutherland Bissell, Madam C.J. Walker, Katharine Graham… Does that ring any bell?

Well, (drum roll…)

These were the face lifters of the business world. They changed how a woman was perceived to be. They were the first-of-its-kind women entrepreneurs, long before people started idolizing Sheryl Sandberg.

Anna Sutherland Bissell was America’s first female CEO. She started as a salesperson, and post her husband’s sad demise, she took over his role, becoming the first woman to serve as Chief Executive Officer of an American corporation. Her glory was so well-spread that even Queen Victoria couldn’t hold and asked her servants that she wanted the palace “Bisselled” every week.

On the other hand, Madam C. J. Walker was one of the first African-American female millionaires with quite a dramatic life – orphan at 7, married at 14, and widow at 20. But did she stop? No! She evolved herself and got into the business. Her idea to create a genuine product for hair-fall and dandruff finally earned her love and respect in the local market, which was later known to be the “Walker Method” or the “Walker System of Beauty Culture.”

Curious about Katharine Graham? She became the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, receiving the Pulitzer Prize for biography for her autobiography, Personal History (1997). Due to her leadership and aggressive investigative reporting style, The Washington Post was deemed as the most influential newspaper in the U.S. capital.

These stories depict the hidden reality that once what was known as a man’s world was taken over by women entrepreneurs and that too pretty successfully creating a positive effect on the world with an innovative, creative, and stern approach. Don’t you agree?

Women in Business World: Opportunity or Challenge?

Lately, it has been noticed that well-known organizations like IBM, General Motors, and Mondelēz International are appointing female CEOs. This trend, however maybe just a coincidence, shows a rise of women in leadership positions across the business world. As per the CNN Business report of August 2020, “The Fortune 500 now has a record number of female CEOs: A whopping 38”. And believe it or not, this was the headline of the article.

Though the progress is slow as women entrepreneurs have been on the Fortune 500 CEO list for 48 years, does that mean that keeping female CEOs is making the visible change towards the betterment of the business world? We think positively.

Evolution of Business World

Why are women entrepreneurs important, you ask? Well, as per a report by the accountancy firm Grant Thornton, publicly traded companies suffer the large opportunity cost of having male-only executive teams as large as £430 bn of investment returns.

This study was conducted in the US, UK, and India, where only one in 10 of the companies had female board executives. With the US’ share of the forfeited returns being £373 bn, UK’s share was £49 bn, and for India, it was £9 bn.

Another study by The Times of India says, “the board of a private sector company, run by a professional CEO with a mix of both men and women, helped ROE rise by 4.4% in 2014 over the last year. In contrast, a similar company with a men-only board saw its ROE rise by a mere 1.8% in the same period.”.

Therefore, it will not harm us to say that there is increasing evidence that women in the business world have a positive impact on a company’s performance.

Peterson Institute for International Economics conducted a study to monitor women’s entrepreneurial impacts on the business world which says that a 30 percent share of women in corporate leadership positions was associated with a one percent increase in the net margin. This ratio simplifies to a 15 percent rise in profitability. Now, isn’t this marvelous!

Table 1 Credit:


Advantages of Women in Business

  • Diverse Workforce

From gender to culture, the age to color – ‘diversity’ has shown to aid in innovative thinking and thus result in better outcomes. Men and women have their own and different experiences, point-of-views, backgrounds, and approaches to the business world. Collaborating with these two minds can breed creativity and encourage innovative ideas.

  • Soft Skills for Business Hardships

CEOs consistently quote soft skills as the most desirable professional attribute. The global consulting firm Hay Group conducted a study and found that women outperform men in 11/12 key emotional intelligence competencies including – emotional self-awareness, empathy, conflict management, adaptability, and teamwork—all essential (soft) skills for effective leadership in the workplace.

Industry-wise Iconic Women Entrepreneurs Who Have Changed the Business World

  • Fashion Industry

Sophia Amoruso – Nasty Gal and Girlboss Media

Net worth: $5 million (£4 million)

Sophia stepped down as Nasty Gal’s CEO in 2015 and went on to develop her new venture, Girlboss, a site that’s dedicated to advising and empowering women on wellness, beauty, careers, and more.

Huda Kattan – Huda Beauty

Net worth: $610 million (£460 million)

Struggling to find great quality false eyelashes, Huda Kattan decided to start a beauty empire by making her own synthetic and faux mink eyelashes which became a favorite of Kim Kardashian.

  • Media & Entertainment

Oprah Winfrey – Harpo Productions

Net worth: $2.6 billion (£2 billion)

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is the founder of Harpo Productions, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Coming from a poor background, she started as a news anchor, then moved onto her talk show which gathered a lot of appreciation and has invested lots of time and money into philanthropy – a true inspiration!

J K Rowling – Novelist, Film Producer and Screenwriter

Net worth: $60 million (£45 million)

British novelist JK Rowling faced her fair share of obstacles and rejection while trying to publish her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Once she managed to break through the publishing barriers, the rest we all know, we all witnessed overnight!

  • Corporate Industry

Cher Wang – HTC Corporation 

Net worth: $850 million (£640 million)

Who would have thought that a Taiwan-born philanthropist, Cher Wang will one day be the founder of the billion-dollar tech company HTC! With a core focus to develop innovative smartphones, HTC never compromised in newness. She is said to have the most profound effect on global finance and business.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw – Biocon Limited

Net worth: $3.9 billion (£2.9 billion)The first woman entrepreneur of India – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is known for her pleasant smile and staggering wealth being the second richest woman in India. She founded the business Biocon Ltd. in 1978, which focuses on biopharmaceuticals sold in over 120 countries across the globe.

Now obviously, the gender of executives in the C-suite and boardroom should not be the only factor to consider when looking to invest in a company in the long run but there are ample studies that aids to be the evidence which advise that gender and especially women entrepreneurs can play a positive role in enhancing and evolving the corporate performance and potentially gain more money for the shareholders.

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