Business

Study: COVID-19, Other Crises, Hit Women Business Owners Harder, Limit Innovation, Growth

small business entrepreneurs Kim Centers
A female business owner. Photo credit: UN Women, Joe Saade, via flickr.com

Just a third of women-owned businesses have returned to pre-pandemic levels of operations, as compared to almost half of their male counterparts, according to research by an equity advocate.

The study, by San Diego’s Kim Center for Social Balance, set out to identify issues facing women in business, including how COVID affected their progress. To do so, the center surveyed 490 San Diego business owners and executives during May and June of 2021.

Questions, posed in English, Spanish and Korean, focused not only on COVID-19 issues, but also on other topics regarding equity and access.

The researchers concluded that “crises like COVID particularly exacerbate systemic inequities that hamstring women entrepreneurs from fully innovating and growing.”

For instance, they found that 25% of female business owners failed to tap into federal pandemic-assistance funds because they couldn’t determine if they qualified. Another 13% of female owners didn’t think they ever will be able to return to pre-pandemic levels of operations.

The center argued though that “San Diego has a pivotal opportunity to electrify its business ecosystem and social prosperity by maximizing” the power of female business owners to establish “the region as an economic powerhouse on (a) national scale.”

The center also cites a 2016 McKinsey & Company study that estimates gender equity could boost San Diego’s GDP by at least 9%.

Tony Young, president and CEO of RISE San Diego, said the organization “is proud to partner” with the Kim Center, as part of “our constant effort to achieve equity in the workplace, as well as in all places of our society, especially in San Diego County.”

RISE supports a Kim Center program, the LEAPS Alliance, an attempt to measure business leadership, advancement and culture and their effect on equity.

“We encourage key stakeholders to join the LEAPS coalition, and support business women (in receiving) the fair and equal treatment and consideration they deserve,” said Young, also a former San Diego City Council member.

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