Survey reveals 1 in 10 business owners has disguised their gender

Dorothy Chong | May 6, 2019
National Small Business Gender Bias
Starting a business is plenty hard. From marketing to staffing, financing to operating, there’s a never-ending list of factors to stay on top of. In honor of National Small Business Week 2019, we asked over 1,000 small business owners about what drives them, what scares them, and what they’ve had to do to succeed.* We found 1 in 10 business owners has disguised their gender in hopes of better results.

So what’s in a name? It can be everything.

There is an endless supply of anecdotal evidence on how gender-specific names have affected everything from getting jobs to acquiring business loans. But the bias is not limited to gender. HuffPost famously shared the story of how changing one letter was the difference between hero and zero in someone’s job search.Dame Stephanie Shirley built her $3 billion public company, now known as Xansa, half a century ago. At the start of her entrepreneurial journey, she went by “Steve” in her correspondence to get her foot in the door and be taken seriously. Her personal website retains the moniker, perhaps as a stark and snarky reminder of what she’s gone through.  

Growth, innovation, and competitiveness for all

As we celebrate National Small Business Week, there are many silver linings to appreciate. The number of women-owned businesses applying for funding is increasing annually. In 2018, it went up 13% from the previous year. Meanwhile, minority-owned businesses make up 27% of the 30 million small businesses nationwide. It has also been found that diverse leadership boosts innovation. Businesses with diverse teams are 35% more likely to have profits above their industry’s national medians. Specifically, for every 10% increase in diversity on the senior exec team, earnings would rise 0.8%.Despite this, it is still harder for women and minority business owners to get business loans. While the stated correlation does not equal causation, it would appear that by applying any discriminatory lens to snuff out opportunities is to stifle the very growth, innovation, and competitiveness small businesses need to succeed. 
*Methodology: TSheets by QuickBooks commissioned Pollfish to survey 1,067 U.S. adult business owners with or without employees. The poll was conducted in April 2019 with a margin of error of ±5 percentage points. The margin of error is larger for subgroups.
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