Closing the gap: Elevating women entrepreneurs

March 4, 2018

By Sue Borgman, EY

When I moved to Seattle and became more involved in the entrepreneurial scene in the Pacific Northwest, I thought, “Where are all the women? Surely there are more women.” I know my colleagues have echoed this same sentiment in cities across the US—from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.

So I set out to find them – I made it my personal mission to meet with influential, well-regarded women CEOs and convince them to help sponsor and mentor other promising women entrepreneurs.

According to Venture Capital (VC) database PitchBook, only 2.2% of VC funding in 2017 went to women founders. The World Economic Forum estimates it will take until 2234 to achieve global gender parity in the workplace — 217 more years until companies and governments are equally led by men and women. Plain and simple—I don’t think this is acceptable. Thankfully, there are actions we can all take to accelerate progress. There are potent platforms like Women. Fast forward, Entrepreneur Of The Year® and Entrepreneurial Winning Women™– to help these deserving women tell their stories, get to know peers and influencers, take time for self-reflection and accelerate their growth.

I now co-lead the Entrepreneur Of The Year Pacific Northwest program and I’m proud to say that, as of now, half of our judges are women and I’m hopeful that this is positively reflected in the participants and winners that come through the program this year.

On International Women’s Day, we take time to stop and reflect, and think about what we are doing to lift up the brilliant businesswomen in our communities, to help close the gender gap. It may seem intimidating, but the truth is, ANYONE can do this – just do it in your own way, and start meeting women in your industry or community.

Get out and network – learn their stories and do what you can to elevate them and create meaningful connections for them.

We know that companies with more women at the top outperform others, and that women entrepreneurs create job growth and innovation. So why are there still so few women leaders? There are actionable steps that organizations can take to accelerate gender equity: illuminate the path to leadership for more women through engaged mentors and sponsors, speed up company culture change with progressive corporate policies, and build supportive environments that work to eliminate conscious and unconscious gender bias.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #PressForProgress, calls on us to push ahead with our commitment to advancing gender parity globally. Together, we can redefine opportunities for future generations of women, forging a lasting legacy of growth, increased prosperity and stronger communities throughout the world.

Join me in motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to elevate women entrepreneurs and build a more inclusive, gender equal world as we #PressForProgress in 2018 and beyond.

As a Principal at Ernst & Young LLP, Sue Borgman has over 28 years of experience working with many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies on some of the most complex transactions and deals in the global market.