I wrote this blog post last year to commemorate Women’s History Month 2016 and to acknowledge the gains that Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) had achieved in Federal contracting. The message is still important and relevant today so, here it is again for Women’s History Month 2017.
In 1972, the phrase “I am woman hear me roar” was popularized by the Helen Reddy hit song I am Woman. The song became a rallying cry for women’s rights pointing out that there were too many women to “ignore.” Young girls and women would sing along and belt out the lyrics. Forty one years later in 2013, we heard Katy Perry Roar with her hit song. And, young girls and adults are once again belting out the lyrics. Both songs equate “roaring” with personal empowerment and being heard.
This is juxtaposed with the meaning of “roaring” when referring to the 1920s as the “Roaring Twenties.” In this context, the meaning is less about personal empowerment and more about economic empowerment. The Roaring Twenties are defined as a period of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge. Women typically represented the cultural part of the equation and flappers became the iconic imagery for the period.
That was the 1920s. In the almost one hundred years since then women have become critical to both economic prosperity and the cultural landscape.
Today, Reddy’s lyric “numbers too big to ignore” could be referring to women business owners. According to the Amex OPEN 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, as of 2015, it is estimated that there are just over 9.4 million women-owned businesses in the United States. These businesses generate nearly $1.5 trillion in revenues.
And, with the roar getting louder, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has responded with improved features to the WOSB program. In an attempt to level the playing field, last year the SBA announced that WOSB’s doing business with the Federal government are eligible for sole-source awards. Sole-source awards have been available to other disadvantaged businesses (e.g.Veteran-owned and minority-owned) for years.
And, the General Services Administration (GSA) recently announced that the government had reached their percentage goal for WOSBs for the very first time since the goal was established in 1994. While it is heartening that the goal was met, the goal was just 5%! We still have a ways to go until the playing field is fair. So, we will keep on roaring!
SynaVoice is a certified Woman-Owned Small Business.