Women’s History Month dates back to the 1980s, when it was first a weeklong celebration before being extended by a Congressional resolution. Celebrations during the month of March typically include mentions of notable women throughout history. Some of them are women from the business world, from Madame C.J. Walker to Sheryl Sandberg.
How can we support women so they might become known or remembered during Women’s History Month? By exposing them to the world of small business as early as possible.
If you want to help raise the next generation of women in small business, here are four ways you can take action. Gentlemen, your encouragement and support can go a long way, too.
Host field trips
Offer your company up to school groups or Girl Scout troops. While these visits may have a clear mission, like contributing to a learning unit or satisfying a merit badge, your presence as a business owner can make an impression on young visitors.
Invite them to ask questions about how you got into business and what you’ve learned along the way. By sharing your journey with young people, you help your community’s next generation — especially the young women — realize ways they can start their own business journey.
Don’t have a physical office or nervous about hosting children near your business equipment? Consider speaking at career day events at local schools.
Host an intern
If your business could benefit from an extra set of hands, an internship program might be a good fit for both you and a young woman in your community. Determine in what capacity an intern at the high school or college level could serve your business, along with the concepts and skills you can teach them, before putting out a call for applications.
A few things to consider: you’ll need to pay your intern, consider labor laws, and you might need to carry worker’s compensation for an intern.
Attend women’s business or pitch-night events
Business events, whether social mixers, pitch nights, or panel talks, can be intimidating for women who may feel outnumbered by male entrepreneurs. Women business owners can attend these events for support, or take the next step to serve as speakers, judges or hosts. Men, you’re still welcome — your interest in and applause for women’s business ventures is appreciated!
Become a mentor
Few types of people are as encouraging to new and aspiring business owners than mentors. By sharing a delicate mix of tough love and cheerleading, your insight can help other business owners make better decisions for their own ventures.
Don’t think you have time for a formal mentoring commitment? Start by offering a fellow woman business owner in your neighborhood your time over a cup of coffee; or answer that email that’s been sitting in your inbox from a student asking to pick your brain.