We are coming to end of our Semester and so this blog is slowly drawing to a close. In this article I will take a look back at all we have achieved and what the main points are that were learnt. Thank you to everybody who has supported me by reading my articles and through comments and feedback. I have learnt a lot from all of you!
In October, when we started out, we formed a team that turned out to be all female. Therefore, when choosing a theme for our blog, the idea to focus on Women in Business arose. As the first Creative Lady I chose to present was Safia Minney I was quickly drawn into the world of Ethical Business. Many articles followed wherein I learned a lot more about what it means to run an ethical business and a lot of my preconceptions changed, often through questions arising through comments which I then tried to answer. My favourite example is why Ethical Businesses sell out to none Ethical Businesses in the article; Should you sell you Morals? However each article taught me a little more, so what are the main points to take away?
Ethical Business: The results!
Ethical Business is growing. It can be used as part of the Business Model Innovation which Patrick Stähler talks about. Many Businesses offer the same products as companies set up before them but their value proposition is the ethical aspect. For example what makes Divine Chocolate different to other chocolate? They are an ethical brand! Even better they are ethical all the way through their supply chain which adds value to their overall product. The customer is willing to pay a premium price for the chocolate because they believe in fairtrade and it fits with their personal morals.
“The art of management and entrepreneurship is exactly to find a solution that makes you positively unique in the eyes of your customers” – Stähler –
Ethical Business is one way to achieve that. The challenge for the future is as more businesses expand their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and become more ethical it will no longer be the distinguishing factor. Therefore it is important for ethical firms not to become complacent and continue to innovate their products and services.
The role of the Entreprenuer, the role of women as Entrepreneurs.
While writing about ethical entrepreneurship there was always the thought about female entrepreneurs in the background. What makes a person an entrepreneur and what is it that distinguishes an Entrepreneuress from her male counterpart? The role of the Entrepreneur can be described in different ways. In our lecturers Sven Ripsas gave us these classic examples:
Bearer of uncertainty – Cantillon (1755)
Innovator – Schumpeter (1911)
Discovery of previously unnoticed profit opportunities– Kirzner (1971)
Co-ordinator of goods and services – Casson (1982)
Through our research we could not find many women who were historically active in Entrepreneurship and Business. This will of course have a lot to do with the women’s historical role as the stay at home mum, however I believe the above list also gives us an insight. Throughout our blogs we discovered that women are not as willing as men to take on high risk, this is especially clear to see in their choice of capital when financing their ventures. See TB’s Article; Bootstrapping – Gründung ohne Fremdkapital.
So Cantillon’s definition does not really suit women. The same goes for Schumpeter’s definition. According to inventors.about.com in 1977 only 7.7% of the annually granted U.S. origin patents were by women. The number has risen since then to about 20% but that still leaves 80% of the Innovators male. It is predicted that it will even out to about 50/50 in the future though.
Kirzner’s definition closely ties into Schumpeter’s one as again it is a matter of rethinking the whole design and coming up with something new. This is getting closer to the skills women naturally bring but I believe it is Casson’s definition where women can fit in best. Women are known multi-taskers, they are good at co-ordinating and working with people.
As our perceptions and expectations of what an entrepreneur is have changed more women have been able to fill the role. Or maybe it is the other way around. As women’s role in society changes people realise they also have the qualities to be an entrepreneur and so the definition is updated. Either way there are more and more start ups run by women and hopefully there soon won’t be such a big gender divide in higher levels of management.
It takes two to Tango
In our fight for equality and equal opportunities I believe it’s important to remember we are different and it is important to embrace this diversity. While talking to various professional women this week I often heard the sentiment echoed that in order to be successful and move up in an organisation they had to embrace many male traits. This could be harmful to the company as the feminine skills are lost. Stähler demonstrates the importance of diversity in his Bosche experiment. It was the team with an equal amount of women and men who were successful as they saw the problem from different angles.
Networks as support
Where can women turn for help when they need support? Looking at this question led me to write the articles about the importance of Networking and the organisation Women 2.0. There is loads of information out there and organisations like Women 2.0 who support women who want to start up their own businesses and become Entrepreneuresses.
Wonder and Socrates
All in all writing this blog has been very inspiring. There are so many successful women around and many of them are using business as a tool to change the world for the better. My conclusion is that women often treat their businesses like a family and look after it and care about the effect it has on the rest of the world. This mothering approach is what makes them so successful in ethical businesses in areas like fairtrade and human rights. There is still so much to explore and so much to write about but for now I will be saying a fond farewell to this blog. However I am sure that I will be back writing somewhere again in the future.
To conclude I would like to leave you with some wisdom from Socrates. For more see: Socrates Quotes
- Wisdom begins in wonder.
- Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.
- Know thyself
- The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
- I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.
- Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.
- Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.
- Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior