The COVID pandemic has had a staggering impact on women in the workforce and gender pay equality. According to the 2021 Retrospective: The Story of Gender Equity From the Past Decade in 10 Trends, the aggregate gender pay gap in the United States has been set back by 22 years and the labor force participation rate by 32 years.
According to the report, “the gender pay gap widened by 5 percentage points as a result of the pandemic. Women now earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn. That drop sets us back 22 years (to 1998 levels) in terms of gender pay equity.”
Over 2.2 million women have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic. Of the most affected groups – Black women are starting businesses at the fastest rate of any racial group. Since 2007, the number of firms owned by African-American women has grown by 164%. Nearly half of women-owned businesses in the United States, or 44%, are controlled by minority women.
As a woman who was widowed at age 31, eight weeks after giving birth to my second child, I know how important women economic empowerment is to our society and economy.
However, what’s more, important is how we view the totality of a woman’s contribution to the economy and society over a lifetime. This includes childcare and domestic labor and how women can more effectively balance these demands, while still feeling economically empowered and achieving entrepreneurial success.
In the introduction of my book, Holistic Wealth, I call for the redefinition of wealth:
“The traditional concept of ‘wealth’, as defined solely by a person’s net income and material possessions, needs to be revised by a whole new generation of women who value not just amassing physical assets but also collecting experiences, engaging in meaningful work, and having more control over their time. It’s the hour for women to become advocates for a new concept of wealth that includes health and well-being and a life well lived.”
Entrepreneurship has taken on more significance as women seek to engage in more meaningful work and have more control over their time. There are lessons we can draw on from iconic women who have achieved entrepreneurial success and impacted the lives of millions around the world.
Kelly Rutherford, Actress and Entrepreneur
Kelly Rutherford is an iconic actress and entrepreneur, with a career that spans three decades, and is best known for her role as the glamourous Lily Van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl.
In an interview on the Holistic Wealth podcast, Kelly told me that while she was in a family crisis with her own kids she learned that it’s important to “get aligned with what’s working and what’s not working in your life.”
She says, “Anything that’s a distraction, try to eliminate it. We try to overcomplicate our lives instead of simplifying our lives. Do your best to eliminate distractions that take you away from your own intelligence.”
In the midst of chaos, she started her own jewelry line based on symbols she finds both spiritual and uplifting. Kelly’s advice can help guide female entrepreneurs and those seeking inner-growth.
Change your mindset
In her interview, Kelly says that in the midst of chaos she asked herself, “How do I get my power back as a human being? How do I empower myself to get my power back?” She realized that she would get her power back once she changed her mindset to focus on her physical, spiritual and emotional health. As Kelly says, “Keep showing up in the best way you can.”
Practice mindfulness and gratitude
“Things started to shift when I stopped resisting it and started focusing on realignment.” For Kelly, finding alignment includes meditation, yoga and spending time in nature. She says, “Keep love in your heart, if you can do that – it’s huge, as well as patience with others and patience with yourself.”
Loren Ridinger, SVP. SHOP.COM and Market America
Loren Ridinger, co-founder of Shop.com and Market America, shared some business tips for women entrepreneurs on the Holistic Wealth podcast.
She advises, “Don’t give away all of your business equity when you start. But make deals with your friends. Make deals with people who you know, love and trust. I didn’t go to college. The closest I’ve been to college is to go to speak at it. Now I teach about entrepreneurship.”
Almost a billion dollars in sales and over six million customers later, Loren’s business is a tremendous success and now Shop.com is number 54 worldwide for online shopping. Loren shares the following advice.
Tune out the naysayers and surround yourself with the right people
As Loren mentions on the Holistic Wealth podcast, “Your mind is the most important asset you have – guard it.”
Loren has shared openly the story of her struggles with starting her company. At the time of launching her business, it was bringing in just $1,000 per month. Everyone told her she was crazy; and upon hearing that she “decided to shut out the negative talk and naysayers, and keep believing.” She knew eventually their day of success would come.
“It was about belief. Believing we could do it. Believing we could get the cream of the crop. Don’t quit just because it’s not happening on your clock. Progress takes time. Surround yourself with the right people. When you have the right people around you, you can conquer the world.”
Make Goal-Setting A Priority
Loren advises women entrepreneurs to make goal-setting a priority. She says, “If I make a project – I create goals. I do 28-day challenges to achieve goals. Hold yourself accountable and put some dates on paper. Be passionate and know your ‘why’. If you know your why then you will figure out your ‘how’.”
The conversations with Kelly Rutherford and Loren Ridinger continue on the Holistic Wealth Podcast with Keisha Blair, where you will find more of their tips and insights on entrepreneurship and living your best life.
Keisha Blair is the world’s foremost expert on holistic wealth; the award-winning, bestselling author of “Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness;” and founder of the Keisha Blair Institute on Holistic Wealth, which offers the Certified Holistic Wealth Consultant Program. Her current focus at the Institute includes providing a range of course offerings and tools for entrepreneurs and professionals. She has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, MSN, Yahoo Finance, and many other publications. Her writing has appeared in the New York Observer, Swaay Media, and Thrive Global. Find out more at www.keishablair.com.