The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is celebrating 27 years of great progress for women and women and minority owned businesses. But…On June 10, 1963, President John Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act, which sought to end wage discrimination on the basis of sex. In 1963 women were paid 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. Now in 2013 we still have a long way to go to achieve parity. Women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. For women of color, the gap is even wider. For men of color, the gap is enormous. And unfortunately, parity is still a long-term goal for women and minority owned businesses.
For the first time, women constitute a majority of the U. S. workforce. More than 60 percent of all women now work full-time. Women and minority owned businesses are now the majority of businesses in the U.S.! However, the revenues of 80 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are under $500,000. More than 90 percent of all women and minority owned businesses are in that category.
Internationally, the United Nations has put a spotlight on stimulating GDP in developing countries by channeling more programmatic funds to women.
The horizon is looking brighter at the federal, state and local levels. The U. S. Small Business Administration is committed to and implementing an expanded 5 percent contracting goal for women business enterprises for every federal agency.
In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a bill amending the Illinois Equal Pay Act and expanded the power of the Illinois Business Enterprise Council to ensure women and minority businesses will have significant access to contracts and subcontracting opportunities with the state of Illinois and all its state agencies and institutions including state colleges and universities.
In Cook County, President Preckwinkle and the Cook County Commissioners have increased the goals for women and minority businesses in all county agencies. Plus, monitoring and compliance are enhanced and new initiatives on bonding and insurance are being implemented.
In the city of Chicago, new and increased resources expedite W/MBE certification and commitment to contract compliance is enhanced, city sister agencies are on board to expand business opportunities for women and minority business enterprises and new initiatives are being implemented to provide more prime contracting opportunities.
For business and job creation in the U.S. the case for diversity is clear and uncompromising. Corporate America is committed to strengthening its relationships and to sustain and increase market share with women and people of color as consumers of their goods and services and also as employees, vendors and suppliers.
In part two of Parity and Diversity, I’ll dive deeper into the corporate aspects of equality.