This week’s discussion with the Cornell University and Bank of America women’s entrepreneurship class:
“Women face some challenges when they represent the voice of the founder in their marketing efforts. In particular, the biases people have about the competence, education, and capabilities of women based on their appearance and the sound of their voice. Many women face additional challenges due to biases people have based on their race, religion, class, culture, sexuality, and other aspects of their identity.
Share your thoughts on how these biases have affected you, or how you think they may affect you, in the marketing realm.
- Have you been visible, or do you plan to be visible, in your marketing campaign? Why or why not?
- What concerns do you have about the way customers might view you as a founder?
- Have you minimized or changed certain aspects of yourself to try to avoid certain biases (for example, have you changed your hairstyle or the way you speak)?
- How do you feel about any changes you’ve made?
- What other strategies have you used or do you plan to use to overcome biases based on your identity as a founder? Share what has worked for you.”
I agree that often women face some challenges when they represent the voice of the founder in their marketing efforts by both men and often other women; who often ask for “pedigree” , background, educational credentials, professional experience, testimonials, etc. (at least, that’s been my experience).
I answer the phones for a company I’m currently in partnership with, and have often been “dismissed” and asked for ‘The Owner’. In one specific example, a male that called in would’ve even state what he wanted exactly – I’m assuming it was because he heard a female voice on the other end. I can only imagine the reaction if he knew my race, religion, and socioeconomic status!
Being an African American woman Founder and Co-Owner has affected me in more untraditional ways, as I have to be visible within both organizations. Once I began to put my name on my marketing materials (business cards, website, banners, etc.), the question (from other women ‘in business’) was whether or not this was a good idea.
I will continue to be visible in both organizations for years to come, as I am proud of who I am and how far I’ve come in both businesses.
I have no concerns about the way customers might view me as a Founder. What others “think” of me is not my business (and I can’t change anyone’s mind, anyway).
Most of my customers find me and hire me because of my knowledge and relatability as an entrepreneur.
I’ve always valued my oration and communication skills. The only changes I’ve made is to continue to improve upon who I am and what I know, in a way that makes ME happy.
I plan to continue to emphasize on the fact that I am beautiful, black, female Founder with a diverse personal background, tons of educational experience and modern-day know-how; which has all been an asset to my business.