Today’s high-powered women executives make it a point to weave social entrepreneurship into their businesses.
The Women Presidents’ Organization – Chicago chapter, recently announced the results of a survey of its members. Those survey results were especially interesting because on the one hand they indicated substantial growth. Eighty-five percent (85%) reported that their revenues grew over 25% in 2006. Roughly the same percent predicted their businesses would also grow in 2007, sometimes up to 70% growth.
Clearly, these are women focused on the top line and bottom line.
A group of focused, committed, growth-oriented women business leaders does not surprise me. What did surprise me just a little, was how many — 62.9% — said that social entrepreneurship was important or very important.
Keep in mind that we’re talking about substantial “small” businesses. This is a group of business owners who run multimillion dollar enterprises. The minimum size requirement to be a member is $2 million in annual revenues ($1 million for service businesses).
According to Laurel Delaney, Chicago-area facilitator of the group and CEO of GlobeTrade, just being a member of the group by definition involves giving back to others. She notes, “The Women Presidents’ Organization Chicago members measure their business performance based on sales, profitability and other areas considered key such as making the world a better place to live in which has a lot to do with social entrepreneurship. By being a member of the nonprofit Women Presidents’ Organization, it puts each of us in the position of a ‘call to action’ on social entrepreneurship. After all, we are working together to improve business conditions for women entrepreneurs and promote the acceptance and advancement of women entrepreneurs in all industries. Isn’t that what social entrepreneurship is all about?”
These women contribute and give back in a variety of ways. For instance, Angelika P. Coghlan, Managing Partner of Catwalk Consulting, an online conference service, says, “With regard to social entrepreneurship, I am involved with several not-for-profit organizations and help out regarding technology in any way that I can. I provide my expertise at no cost and provide whatever technology (within reason) that I can provide at no cost.”
Lois Anthonisen, President of Anthonisen Financial Corporation, was recently honored as a winner of the 2007 Enterprising Women of the Year Award, which recognizes winners as leaders who have mentored and given back and have had a profound impact on their community. She noted in an email, “My social entrepreneurship involves serving on the Foundation Boards of Governors State University and Prairie State University. I am also an active Altrusan and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. International service includes working with a group of financial services professionals teaching the Chinese how to deliver financial products and services and delivering eyeglasses to the poor in Poland, through Volunteers for Optometric Services to Humanity.”
It’s intriguing how the definition of success today is not just about achieving a certain revenue and earnings level. It is also about viewing your business in a larger context of using your success to help others.