Practical ways to increase women in entrepreneurship roles subject of new playbook

February 21, 2019

Fighting stereotypes, finding capital and scaling up are just some of the techniques outlined in a new playbook designed to bring more women in entrepreneurship roles and revitalize the U.S. economy. Elevating Women in Entrepreneurship, by Erika R. Smith and Brita Belli, published by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), is a playbook outlining common misconceptions surrounding women in entrepreneurship and a practical guide on overcoming obstacles and building on best practices.

The playbook, funded by the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Small Business Forward initiative, presents ways to encourage engagement for incubators and accelerators. It notes that it is not enough to “proclaim their commitment to diversity and gender equality if the makeup of their leadership and participants tells a different story.” It offers advice on being more proactive, building community, and committing to equal representation. The discussion is frank and the examples draw from current best practices.

Funding mechanisms are also highlighted in the playbook. It points out that women-led startups perform better than male-led startups, but notes that investors have been slow to evolve. It offers ways for the VC industry to change (add women to the decision-making process at VC firms and become aware of bias), as well as ways for entrepreneurship centers to present different models, which can include prizes, grants and crowdfunding.

Another separate report from the Center for American Entrepreneurship mirrors the emphasis of the InBIA report for greater representation of women-founded companies in venture funding markets. In The Ascent of Women-Founded Venture-Backed Startups in the United States, author Ian Hathaway found that women-founded startups represent a small, but growing share of activity. He notes that while progress has been made in recent years for women founders at the early stage of the funding market, “there remains plenty of room for improvement for women in venture-capital-funded businesses overall….” While he calls for more research on the subject, Hathaway notes that current evidence suggests that diversifying the investor base would be an effective way to improve conditions immediately.

entrepreneurship, accelerators, women, vc