5 Reasons Female Entrepreneurs Should Start Remote Businesses
2018 looks to be an interesting and, dare I say, hopeful year for women in the professional realm. We’re finally seeing sustained engagement to end sexual harassment in the workplace, and gender gaps in pay and promotions continue to be an active topic of discussion.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, women are more active than ever. In the U.S., more than 9.1 million businesses are women-owned–that’s 31 percent of all privately-held firms. Together, they create $1.4 trillion in sales and employ almost 8 million people.
And yet, when it comes to women and entrepreneurship, we still face a specific set of challenges that stack the odds against us in a way that doesn’t happen for men. Writing for Entrepreneur, Sarah Landrum points out these unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs: personality and behavioral stereotypes; lack of professional role models; and of course, the current gender imbalance in leadership positions and pay.
However, the forward-thinking realm of remote companies is showing big signs of promise in overcoming those issues and creating an atmosphere where women thrive.
At Remote.co, we reviewed data from 128 companies that operate mostly or fully remotely and found some very promising numbers that show dramatic improvements in the percentage of women in leadership roles compared to traditional, brick-and-mortar companies: 19% of mostly or fully remote companies have women CEOs, compared to 5.2 percent of S&P 500 companies and 6.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
To learn more, we interviewed five remote company women leaders to find out why remote businesses are a good option for women.
Better Balance Between Work and Life
Shannon Miles, CEO and Co-founder of BELAY, says working remotely allows her to set daily priorities that align with her values: family, work, and autonomy.
“I’m able to send my kids off to school, dive into my work day and be here when they get home,” says Miles. It might sound basic, but that kind of balance is hard to find in a brick and mortar.”
A More Productive Team
At the beginning of any business, getting things done is paramount, but it’s not usually possible to hire a large workforce. Remote work helps businesses make the most of the workers they do have, while still keeping the needs of each worker in mind, says Emily Morgan, founder of Delegate Solutions.
Traditional companies scrutinize people who aren’t at their desks because that’s how they often measure productivity–as time given–says Morgan.
“As an employer, when you look at productivity under the lens of, ‘can they add value? Can they contribute? Can they meet the needs of clients? Do they enjoy what they are doing?,’ The priorities shift around what is valuable as an employer from our employees.”
A Focus on Results
For most of the 20th century and even today, leadership has looked a certain way. Companies, even without realizing it, have biases that promote people who look and act a certain way (like those traditional leaders) into leadership positions, perpetuating inequality at the top.
“Virtual companies generally operate with a more progressive mindset–one that doesn’t penalize women or men for seeking time for both work and life, or just for having a different vision of what leadership and professionalism looks like to them,” says BELAY Chief Operating Officer, Tricia Sciortino.
Remote companies take the focus off what leadership “looks like” and force people to focus on results.
Avoid Outdated Business Practices
The very act of building a business remotely can help women entrepreneurs avoid some of the potentially outdated or less useful business models that traditionally-founded companies adhere to, says Alice Hendricks, CEO of Jackson River.
“In-person companies often default to existing models without really thinking through what kind of balance (or imbalance) they want to promote, relying on individual employee’s past experiences of how much they need to work to succeed,” says Hendricks.
Too often, businesses adopt practices or cultural norms because they’re “how things have always been done.” But remote work is such a different way to run a company, it can force (in the best possible way) business leaders to rethink those practices, or avoid them entirely.
A Chance to Raise Up Other Women
Equivity’s Co-founder and Director of Marketing and Business Development, Heidi Hodges, sees remote work as beneficial for everyone–working mothers, men and women, those just starting their careers, and seasoned professionals.
“Working remotely allows for far more flexibility for everyone,” says Hodges. “This applies to all women at the company, whether you are the owner or an assistant, working remotely has benefits for everyone at every level.”
And because of that, starting a remote business means women entrepreneurs can create opportunities for more women to experience those benefits and grow their careers.
There’s still a lot of work to be done. Even at remote companies, women are fewer than 20 percent of CEOs, but that’s almost four times more than in traditional companies, and that is a good sign that remote businesses and flexible work policies can be one key component to creating a more balanced, equitable workplace for all.
About the Author
Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO and founder of FlexJobs, an award-winning, innovative career website for telecommuting, flexible, freelance and part-time job listings, and founder of Remote.co, a one-stop resource for remote teams and companies, and the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative