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Female business owners in Colorado explain the bias they face in the workplace

Women report they aren't taken seriously
Posted at 11:57 AM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 20:07:25-05

As the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce plans to launch a program to help women grow their businesses, a recent survey from Bank of America and Babson College found that women continue to face biases that are preventing them from getting the funding and expertise needed to grow.

“Thirty years ago, when we started our organization, we saw a lot of hobby businesses for women,” said Kristen Blessman, president and CEO of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

She said the perception that women are starting a business as a side gig is still prevalent today.

The new survey by Bank of America and Babson College revealed even successful female business owners feel they aren’t taken seriously. Many said investors believed they weren’t serious about growing their company, or as focused on creating wealth as male business owners.

Women-owned businesses make up a total of 11.4% of all Colorado businesses. Eighty-six percent of women-owned businesses in Colorado have just one employee: the owner.

Jamee Fred, co-founder of TrueSpace, said her company also has found biases among investors when meeting with women.

“Women get a prevention focus,” Fred said. “The questions are already running under the assumption that women are going to fail, and then men get a promotion focus, so investors assume the business is going to triple in value."

Sara Needham, general manager and business partner with Rise Collaborative Workspace, said these biases are doing a disservice by preventing women from owning more businesses.

“I think all people bring a unique perspective and when we eliminate a portion of the population, we’re doing a disservice to the rest of the population,” she said.

Needham said she feels women need to have mentors. At Rise, women can connect with other female business leaders.

Blessman agrees that mentorship is important.

“Women need to see other women doing this — they need to see the example," she said. "There’s something about watching a woman navigate the system that’s a little different than a man."