For close to a century, the third week of October has marked the celebration of National Business Women’s Week. This holiday aims to highlight the accomplishments of working women in business while helping to promote leadership roles and increasing opportunities for advancement for women.
How it All Started
The first acknowledgment and celebration of National Business Women’s Week can be traced back to 1928 when Emma Dot Partridge, executive secretary of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, created the concept. The first conference was held in April of that year, where Lena Madesin Phillips, then national president of the organization, stated the purpose of the week was “to focus public attention upon a better businesswoman for a better business world.”
In 1932, President Hoover issued a letter recognizing National Business Women’s Week and the achievements of women in the workforce. Then, in 1938, the holiday was officially moved to the third full week of October. It’s been celebrated at this time of the year ever since.
This week not only aims to celebrate the accomplishments of women past and present; it’s also an opportunity for discussions surrounding the needs of women in business and how they can be best supported.
Facts About Woman-Owned Businesses
According to The 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, which was commissioned by American Express:
- 42% of all businesses were woman-owned, adding up to around 13 million private businesses (for comparison, in 1972, only 4.6% of businesses were woman-owned)
- Woman-owned businesses employed 9 million people as of 2019
- Woman-owned businesses generated close to $2 billion in revenue in 2019
- While the number of women-owned businesses grew 21% from 2014 to 2019, firms owned by women of color grew at double that rate (43%)
Despite this growth, we’re still seeing a huge revenue disparity. In fact, for every dollar that a privately held company generated, women-owned businesses generated 30 cents in 2019.
6 Ways to Celebrate National Women’s Business Week
- Acknowledge the accomplishments and the hard work of the working women in your life. A thank you, a gift card or a nice gesture go a long way in making a woman feel accomplished and appreciated.
- If you are a business owner who employs women, set time to speak with them about how you can better support them and their goals for growth.
- Spend time educating yourself on the history of women in business.
- Read a memoir written by a woman in business to learn more about their personal journey. Or opt for a personal development book by an inspiring boss lady.
- Get together with the working women in your life to celebrate all your accomplishments.
- Join a professional women’s association or club to become part of a community that supports and empowers one another.
How to Support Women-Owned Businesses
National Business Women’s Week is a chance to celebrate and support some of your favorite woman-owned shops and businesses. As a business owner and a mom of two, I know how much effort goes into launching a successful business while juggling parenting and all the things life throws at us.
Here are some ways you can show your support:
- Shop women-owned businesses. With the holidays just a couple of months away, this is the perfect opportunity to stock up on gifts from your favorite shops.
- Leave a positive review on products or services you received and enjoyed from a woman-owned business. Reviews provide social proof and encourage more purchases from others.
- Create social media posts highlighting some of your favorite products purchased from women-owned businesses. For example, it could be a photo of your skincare routine or an OOTD with the shops tagged in the image and the caption.
- Create a directory of your favorite women-owned businesses and share it with friends or on social media.
- Invest in women-owned businesses. With female entrepreneurship on the rise, one way to show your support is by investing in a start-up business led by women.
- Mentor other women. If you’re a woman in business, you surely have some experience under your belt. Sharing your experience and guidance with recent college grads or new business owners can be an impactful way of empowering other women in business.
I’ll leave you with this quote: “Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Unknown
How will you be celebrating and supporting the businesswomen in your life this week?
Updated October 2023