Guest Post by Justine Levenberg, Sportball
They say that behind every successful woman is a tribe of women who have her back. In my almost 20 years in business, I have continually found this to be true.
This is an exciting time to be a woman entrepreneur, especially in British Columbia. From 2013 to 2018, the growth in self-employment among women (8.8 per cent) in B.C. was higher than that of men (7.0 per cent). Despite this growth, Canadian women who launch businesses earn, on average, 58 per cent less than male entrepreneurs.
Women need to break through the glass ceiling using mentorship.
Why does this glass ceiling still exist when women are running their own businesses, and what can we do to break through it? I firmly believe the answer lies in mentorship.
Why? Perhaps because a whopping 60% of women who have considered starting a business did not because of a lack of confidence, not feeling like the type of person who could start a business or feeling they did not deserve to succeed despite their skills. Put very simply, this is just not something that men experience nearly as often, or to such a strong degree.
My wife and I have both experienced this first-hand. While we are partners in parenting our 3-year-old daughter, we each run our own companies; PL3Y International, and Sportball Vancouver. Through the trials of starting and growing businesses, we have both felt the impact of having an amazing network of support, not only from each other, but in the communities we have built. It was that community that ignited a passion in me for leadership, and a desire to create opportunities for young professionals to foster their personal and professional growth.
Mentorship can have many faces. Sometimes it is very structured, like volunteering as a business mentor with the Women’s Enterprise Centre and with Young Women in Business. Sometimes it is the opportunities you create yourself, as we have decided to sponsor a full-time salary for an incredible woman at Living Positive Kenya – an organization near Nairobi Kenya that saves single moms living with HIV/AIDs from the slums and rehabilitates them back to health while providing education to their children. Through the funding and training provided, they are able to deliver movement classes to adults and kids in her community.
The bottom line is that there is nothing that can push you to succeed like another woman who has been there and done that. A woman who has broken that glass ceiling – who has flourished in the middle of the ‘good ‘ol boys club’ – can inspire the level of confidence needed to take risks, whether you’re just thinking about starting a business, or reaching for that next rung on the ladder.
To all the women who have paved the way for us to thrive, we owe an incredible debt of gratitude. One that must be paid forward by offering our helping hand to the next generation.