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Wow! The business case for retaining women is robust! This is my fourth post on the topic and I still have more to go! This time I’ll focus on the “women’s market” and how retaining and engaging women can help your business get its fair share of a huge and growing market.

 It is natural for people within the same organization to feel more comfortable with people who are like them in background and style. (This natural tendency works against women and minorities in organizations where white males predominate in power positions.) The same natural preference occurs when people select vendors and business partners. Surveys indicate that those making purchasing decisions are more comfortable supporting organizations that employ and promote people like themselves.    Diverse businesses, as a result, are better at tapping the diverse marketplace. 

 The buying power and decision influence of “minority” groups has grown and will continue to grow:

  • The African American market (30 million population) represents buying power of $535 billion.
  • Hispanic Americans (31 million) have buying power of $383 billion.
  • Asian Americans (11 million) have buying power of $229 billion.
  • Gay/Lesbian Americans (overlapping the other groups) (16.5 billion) have buying power of $450 billion.

In many industries, prospective clients weigh diversity in considering whether to choose to work with your business or with a competitor. An example is in law where businesses ask their law firms to sign a pledge to diversity. (E.g., the Colorado Pledge to Diversity,

Women make up a substantial percentage of decision-makers and prospective clients for many businesses. Here are some facts:

  • Women constituted 51.5% of management, professional and related occupations in 2010 according to Catalyst.
  • Women-owned businesses employ more people in the U.S. than the Fortune 500 employ worldwide.
  • Over 85% of retail purchases in the U.S. are made by women and the next 10% are heavily influenced by women.
  • The number of wealthy women in the U.S. is growing twice as fast as the number of wealthy men. Women control over $1 trillion, 60% of American wealth. Of high net worth women, 60% earned their own fortunes.

 Do you see how your getting or retaining a nice slice of this business may depend on your building a workplace that engages and retains women? Have you found yourself preferring to work with businesses that seem to be a good place to work for people like you? Have you seen examples of the value of “mirroring the market”?