Marketing to a new kind of leadership

January 24, 2012

The Left Hand Rocks the Cradle, the Right Hand Rules the World – DeBeers

Economic Development marketing is all about getting your message in front of the ultimate decision maker and those that are highly influential advisors of the ultimate decision maker. As the world becomes more diverse, business leadership is also becoming more diverse. When new markets are discussed, it is typically about geography (China, India, California) or industries (automotive, consumer brands, financial services). More focus should be placed on perhaps the most overlooked leadership demographic – women.

According to Ernst and Young, the eight million women-owned businesses in the United States have an annual economic impact of $3 trillion and employ 23 million Americans – 16% of all US employment. Women are not just ascending to decision making positions, they are creating new enterprises in a variety of fields and bringing new thinking to markets that have been dominated by male leadership. Moreover, women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time, a historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women’s roles and massive job losses for men during this recession. One of the realities of the economic fallout in the past decade is that women are surpassing men in skilled positions. It is becoming quite obvious that women are having a larger influence on not only buying decisions, but where capital and talent are placed.

According to the Central Ohio Leadership Census and The Institute on Women, 25% of the Columbus Region’s elected officials are women, compared to the national average of 12%. Several of our largest public companies are governed by boards with over 25% women directors, and women lead over 50% of our non-profit organizations. To be very clear, this is a strength of our Region. Great companies like Thirty-One Gifts, Victoria’s Secret, Longaberger, Accel, and Resource Interactive are all led by female executives and represent some of the Columbus Region’s fastest growing firms.

Our Region’s value proposition will not change, because business leaders, men or women, are generally focused on the same things (access to new markets and talent, cost, reduced risk). What needs to be considered is how that value proposition is positioned and interpreted. Our team looks forward to working on this issue in 2012. We are engaging leaders from a number of women-focused business organizations, gathering additional facts about the women-led companies in our Region, and developing a thoughtful campaign to growing companies around the world highlighting the fact that the Columbus Region provides an innovative, nurturing culture for women-led businesses. I am interested in your thoughts about this subject and I am interested in knowing how best to take advantage of this great opportunity.

One Columbus Update
Our team will meet with site selectors at a conference in Florida this week. We will also be hosting a meeting of our Central Ohio delegation on Thursday morning to gather information and discuss our strategy to retain, attract, and help companies start, grow and scale in the Columbus Region. Columbus2020 will also be attending the NAIOP 2012 Forecast and meeting with the Detroit Regional Chamber to lend our knowledge in the logistics arena.