In the construction industry, where only 5.5% of the workforce is female, and attempts to set aside jobs for Certified Woman-Owned Businesses, only a small fraction of jobs in the construction industry are awarded to women. We would like to share some advantages of female leadership and businesses advantages of working with Woman-Owned Small Businesses to stress the missed opportunities when women are not part of the solution.
What is a Women-Owned Small Business?
The United States federal government helps level the playing field for female business owners by setting aside certain contracts for the businesses enrolled in the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program and the Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business programs (EDWOSB). To enroll, businesses must be small businesses, and be at least 51% controlled and managed by women. There are additional economic criteria to be eligible for the EDWOSB program. So what are the benefits of partnering with these businesses?
What are the Benefits of Working With a Woman-Owned Small Business?
1. Access to Exclusive Jobs and Resources
Partnering with a Woman-Owned small business gives your organization access to the resources given to women-owned small businesses. One example is government contracts. The US Government is one of the biggest buyers and sellers of goods and services, and working with a Woman-Owned Small Business gives your business access to exclusive government contracts set aside for those businesses. Recently, $17.8 billion government dollars were set aside for contracts for Woman-Owned Small Businesses. Working with a Woman-Owned Small Business means you can share their resources, including exclusive databases of information, including lists of suppliers and procurement information.
2. Building a Collaborative Work Culture
In the construction industry, every step of a project is a collaboration. Whether we're assessing a site, taking measurements, or emailing the client, we are in constant communication, and women can lead the way as dynamic and collaborative leaders. Studies have shown that women thrive in collaborative work environments, due to their tendency to give optimistic assessments of their prospective teammates' abilities and their heightened awareness when teammates are not getting their fair share in terms of pay, workload, etc. This team orientation is important in today's increasingly collaborative work environment. Collaboration, especially with a female perspective, prevents companies from becoming too insular and ignoring outside perspectives.
3. New Points of View on Construction
A study conducted for the Construction Industry Foundation estimates that 65% of companies report that the construction sector is missing out by leaving women out. Executives surveyed by the report explain that female leadership is the greatest asset of working with women in the construction industry. One employer explains that women "make great designers, planners, and project managers, they are very methodical and less inclined to shoot from the hip." They often come at things from a different angle and one that is non-confrontational. This perspective helps companies see things differently, which makes for well-rounded decision-making.
4. Unexplored Revenue and Business Opportunities
Working with a woman-owned small business is not only inclusive, it’s good for the bottom line. Studies have shown that businesses where 30% of top level executives are female adds 6% to the profit margin. Other opportunities open up as a result, including partnerships with companies who are interested in second-tier sourcing with women-owned small businesses.
Research by the Hackett group shows that working with WBENC-certified businesses can increase profitability, and generate up to 130% return on investment. Furthermore, the study showed that organizations that partnered with Woman-Owned Small Businesses had lower operating costs and spent 20% less time on buying operations.
Improving Our Industry
Working with a Woman-Owned business in an industry where women are underrepresented is a great opportunity to tap into a fresh perspective that could give you great competitive advantages. We look forward to hearing about your experiences with woman-owned small businesses, and encourage you to explore ours!