State must ‘do more’ for women entrepreneurs and women-owned startups, says WEDC chief
WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes said the state should do more to uplift women entrepreneurs and women-owned startups.
Speaking in an International Women’s Day webinar yesterday, Hughes said Wisconsin is “keeping pace” with national trends in investing in women-owned businesses, but “we need to do more.” “.
She said businesses founded by women under the state’s Qualified New Business Venture program — which provides tax benefits to investors in Wisconsin startups — received about 5.5% of all money invested. in QNBV companies between 2017 and 2020.
“That’s about half the national figure for comparable investments that go to all-women teams or mixed founding teams, so we can do better there,” she said. “And we’re also seeing that some of those investments aren’t on par with what other companies are receiving. So not only are there fewer women receiving the investments, but those investments are often smaller.”
Hughes explained that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. highlights these trends in conversations with investors and venture capitalists “to ensure they understand” the opportunity presented by women-owned businesses.
She noted that national studies found that startups with a female founder on the team generate 10% more cumulative revenue over five years. And she said investment groups with more female partners tend to create more jobs, make more successful investments at the portfolio level, and achieve higher returns and more profitable exits.
“We need to demonstrate — and we can demonstrate — data that investing in women-owned startups is the best way to see returns for our investors,” she said.
In a message to women entrepreneurs, Department of Administration Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld added, “You are our future.”
“You have and continue to be the foundation of our state’s economy,” she said. “You are incredible role models for young women to follow, to see and to strive for greatness. Know that you are valued and appreciated by Governor Evers and by all of us here today. Because when women succeed, we all succeed.
Other webinar speakers highlighted progress toward equal pay for men and women in the state, though disparities vary by industry.
Heather Thompson, deputy director of the Workforce Information and Technical Support Office of the Workforce Development Department, said the workforce participation rate of the State for Women Workers has “consistently exceeded” the national rate for the past 15 years.
Drawing on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Thompson noted that full-time paid female workers in Wisconsin earned a median weekly income of $885 in 2020. That’s about 86.5% of the figure of 1 023 dollars of the weekly earnings of their male counterparts.
That ratio rose from 82.4% in 2019, showing “a significant increase” over the year, she said.
DWD Secretary-designate Amy Pechacek said the importance of women’s participation in the workforce was “easily evident” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many women have had their careers disrupted,” she said yesterday. “Some have reduced hours while others have left the workforce altogether. And these changes, coupled with the exodus of many baby boomers from the workforce, have exacerbated the challenges employers face in recruiting and retain skilled workers.
–By Alex Moe