Business can be as unpredictable as the weather—you may think you’re prepared for it, and then boom! A storm comes out of nowhere, and you probably didn’t even think to bring an umbrella.
That’s how it feels in marketing, at least.
Founders, CEOs, and other C-suite professionals who know how to harness and embrace their people’s differences are the ones who will weather the storms the best. However, entering the market with those differences on full display can be a lot more difficult than many initially think. Our founder Shama Hyder knows this pretty well, starting a company from the ground up as a minority woman.
With only $1,000 to her name, Shama created Zen Media, now a global marketing and digital PR agency. But the journey to the top of the industry was not without its challenges.
Entrepreneurs that are women and people of color don’t quite fit the description of a typical “businessman.” The double-intersectionality of womanhood and being a minority incites multiple nuances of discrimination (yep, even in 2022) and obstacles for aspiring business owners to achieve their dream. One in two women (almost 50%) dream of starting their own business, but only 12 percent of women think it’s even possible. An even smaller number actually follow through.
With unwavering tenacity, Shama broke through the industry with her woman-owned PR agency. Zen Media even has a female-dominated team, an unintentional “happy little accident,” as Bob Ross would say.
But the heavy female presence is, however, a stroke of good fortune to pay homage to the women in creative leadership roles—there aren’t many out there.
Women Leaders Are Necessary
Women only own 0.1% of marketing agencies.
Read it again: zero point one. Shama is part of that list. On top of that, minority-women-owned marketing and PR agencies are so rare that a percentage can’t even be calculated.
Related post: The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a PR Agency
This extraordinary gap shows how the business world is missing out on the benefits female business leaders bring not only to their communities but to the economy as well. The point is that women-owned organizations cultivate spaces where people can feel heard, seen, and appreciated. A 2017 study found that half of Americans (50%) would prefer to work for a female-led company over a male-led company. These survey respondents cited many reasons for preferring women leaders, like the availability of childcare, more equal pay, and purpose-driven business missions.
Working under female leadership generates more diverse and inclusive teams and new perspectives to add to important business decision-making to deter bad ones that may alienate customers, harm the brand, or impede growth. These business cultures drive more creativity and space to unleash out-of-the-box thinking and innovation, removing the blanket of outdated, misogynistic politics so employees can have more freedom to work how they want. However, we’re not saying a company has to be women-owned to give employees the independence they crave.
We are saying that women in higher leadership roles have become significant indicators of a diverse and supportive environment.
Why It Matters
Success breeds success.
Agencies like Zen Media with founders like Shama provide the perfect example that it’s not just a man’s world anymore. When women and minorities see business people who look and act like them thrive in spaces historically arranged against them, they are more likely to say, “If she can do it, so can I.” (The same study mentioned above found that when people see women in leadership positions, 71% believe they too can achieve a leadership role.)
Not only are women finding their spot at the table, but they’re taking their spot at the head of it.
Zen Media not only supports diversity in terms of race, sex, and background, but we also value diversity of thought—it’s one of our biggest strengths. Inclusivity is one of the best drivers of market growth and innovation. Diverse teams provide a wealth of seemingly unrelated ideas businesses can tap into to reach new levels. People with diverse backgrounds and perspectives see the world differently and come to different conclusions, driving creativity, innovation, and results.
Overall, there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. that employ almost 9 million people, generating $1.9 trillion in revenue—a positive impact on the economy. For the marketing industry, changes are slow to come but are on their way! Women-owned businesses are the catalysts to ignite that change and be inspiring role models for others!