“For years, as I said earlier, I sort of fought the idea that women are ‘different’ than men…Hey, we’re all just people, and each one of us unique…I always resisted the notion that either gender-men or women-might possess inherent qualities that made it inherently ‘different’ or ‘better’ at business than the other. But as recovering research analyst, I always try to let the research speak to me, and when I started to drill down on these issues, what I found surprised me. The research shows that women do bring ‘different’ traits to the office that are good for business.” –Sallie Krawcheck Own It: The Power of Women at Work
I am with Sally here. I have also fought the idea women are inherently different than men.
I think it's safe to say many of differences between men and women are caused by how the differently our society treats men and women. (Like how we are paid differently, how our bodies are viewed differently, etc., etc.).
But if we accept that men and women are inherently different, we can reject the idea that women need to act like men to succeed in business.
In her book Own It: The Power of Women at Work, Krawcheck shares her experiences as the former CEO of Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, as well as the current CEO of Ellevest. She explores how women can use their traditionally female traits to their advantage.
More specifically, she lists 6 strengths that position women for more business success than their male counterparts.
For this post, I focused on 3 strengths that resonated particularly with me.
1. Women are better at relationships.
Krawcheck writes, “There is research to back up the claim that women are more empathetic, better connectors, and natural relationship-builders- all skills that matter enormously for success in business.”
Before I launched my business, I took a strengths assessment to determine my top 5 strengths. I thought learning my strengths would help me leverage these skills to build my business.
The assessment revealed my number one strength is empathy.
I use my empathy whenever I am thinking about how to improve my customers’ shopping experience. It is the reason I keep my prices low, as well as why the shop offers free shipping and free delivery.
2. Women love to learn.
Krawcheck writes, “Increasingly, I’ve recognized that we women love to learn and that we do better at jobs which we’re acquiring new skills. We’re 57 percent of college graduates and 62 percent of master’s degree grads. And we don’t just love to learn; we’re also good at it: a recent analysis found girls making higher grades than boys overall.”
Like I said, before I launched my business, I completed an assessment to learn my top strengths, a move I thought would teach me more about myself.
But before that, I was working toward my master’s degree in Strategic Communication. I developed the idea for the Vintage Modern shop as a Capstone project for the program.
3. Women are more risk aware.
Krawcheck writes,“So what can women’s risk awareness offer to businesses? For one a lot more transparency. For another, a lot better decision-making. Our risk awareness not only means we make fewer mistakes, it also means we have a greater ability to dial back from the mistakes we do make. As leaders and managers, it means recognizing the difference between confidence and competence. It means us actively working to know our blind spots.”
The business and marketing plan I wrote for the Vintage Modern shop was incredibly thorough. My professor jokingly referred to it as “the Moby Dick of Capstone projects.”
I wanted to make sure I understood how much it cost to start a business. I also wanted to understand the market I would be entering, my competition and my target customer.
Evaluating all these things helped me figure out if my business could be successful.
Happily, I learned that the market wasn’t oversaturated, and my Moby Dick of a paper led to opening the Vintage Modern shop.
As previously mentioned, in her book, Own It: The Power of Women at Work, Krawcheck gives an additional 3 strengths women can use to their advantage in the business world. She also includes a lot of other useful information about succeeding as a businesswoman.
If that interests you, I would recommend grabbing a copy from your local library or bookstore.