Liz Elting, founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, based in Manhattan, said a particularly positive aspect of starting one’s own company — even if one’s entrepreneurship is prompted by a pandemic — is the ability to support and empower women and other marginalized populations. And that’s increasingly important as research shows young people are taking on significant caregiving duties that they believe could damage their long-term career opportunities.
An October 2020 report, “Something’s Gotta Give,” by S&P Global Market Intelligence revealed that:
• 63% of caregivers ages 18 to 24 said they felt their caregiving responsibilities led to their being penalized at work.
• Nearly 75% of caregivers ages 18 to 24 said they were having some or a great deal of difficulty balancing work/life responsibilities because of COVID-19.
The report resulted from a survey of 1,573 people, equally divided between men and women, working at companies with more than 1,000 people that approximated the 500 largest U.S. companies.
So in terms of being a business owner who can hire others and ensure fair work standards, “it’s about being the solution instead of waiting for someone else to be,” said Elting, who in 1992 started TransPerfect, a language solutions company that grew to be the world’s largest. She sold her stake in the company in 2018.
“Jobs are down, and artificial intelligence is going to continue to replace jobs, post-pandemic,” said Elting, who cited her recent read of Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World, written by CNN host and Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria, Ph.D., as prescient.
“Women-owned businesses need to make it a priority to recruit and hire women, and help to make sure they are ensuring equal pay, that women hold senior leadership positions, sit on boards of companies, and, outside of the business itself, focus on people’s rights,” Elting said. “The ability for women to gain more financial power begets economic power, and that begets political power,” she said. “We have to invest in each other.”
Elting said it’s important to keep top of mind the long-term impact of pushing forward to empowerment. She cited:
• Studies show women are hired and promoted more often when the company leader or owner is a woman.
• Fewer women in the jobs pipeline translates into fewer being hired or promoted. It becomes a vicious circle.
• Fewer women in leadership roles means a lack of role models and reinforces stereotypes of women as primary caregivers.
Women’s workplace roles also impact the economy and corporate commitment to diversity:
• The more women and diversity at a company, the higher the firm’s return on investment and stock performance.
• The lack of women’s financial independence shrinks the consumer spending base and puts more families into poverty.
• Another vicious circle, as fewer female leaders translates into fewer C-suite leaders (CEOs, chief financial officers, chief information officers, chief marketing officers, and chief technology officers) who may prioritize diversity and culturally complex work rules.
For an in-depth look at the keys to advancing a career during the pandemic, please see our Digital Exclusive Career Toolbox, “Soft Skills Prove Powerful for COVID-era Job Seekers” at https://alltogether.swe.org/swe-magazine/