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frances may design


Why 2023 is a *great* year for women in business

Today on my blog, I’m sharing 3 reasons why 2023 is an awesome year to be a woman in business. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

1) Opportunities to grow. The idea of women running businesses has come a long way in a relatively short time. For my grandmother’s generation, having to work could be a source of shame, and wanting to work was viewed as bizarre at best and socially destructive at worst. When my mother started her first business in the 1990s, she was making waves in a corporate world that considered maternity leave an indulgent luxury. 
Since I started frances may design in 2021, I’ve been extremely privileged and fortunate to be met with an outpouring of support. I’ve never been made to feel lesser than my male peers, even without a traditional business background. My family, friends, broader social network and even total strangers express their well wishes for the success of my business. I face many challenges in running my business, but broad social sanctioning based on my gender is not one of them. 

This experience, of course, places me in a small minority of most women running businesses. My privilege substantially impacts my perspective. I’m also very fortunate to do work in amazing spaces run by women, and I’m lucky to have incredible women clients. Sexism is still a very real issue, and I have experienced it myself. But overall, I experience freedom and support in my life as a woman in business. Of course, I don’t speak for everyone on this, and equality is still not equal (see points 2 and 3 for more about this).
In addition to broader social support, there are some awesome opportunities for women in business right now, including grants, conferences and mutual support groups (shoutout to @WomenWhoFreelanceToronto!). More people are recognizing the value of inclusive business, the positive impact of welcoming multiple perspectives, and the power of women in leadership roles. Women in business in 2023 are in a great position to embrace these opportunities, and use them to make our worlds more just and equitable for all. Which brings me to my second point…
2) Opportunities to support other women. It’s clear that not all women have access to the same platforms and roles in the business world. Access to opportunity overall continues to be heavily impacted by race, class, ability, geographical location, immigration status, and many other types of identity and experience. 
In my social location as a white, cisgender, financially privileged, Canadian woman, I’m in a great position to advocate for the value of intersectional experiences around the conference table. I know for a fact, body and soul, that a multiplicity of diverse voices can only add to the positive impact of good work. Furthermore, the challenges we’re trying to solve – as contemporary, innovative businesses – demand and require the knowledge and power of all women, as well as non-binary and gender non-conforming people. As we gain power as women in business, we can and must raise up each other. As we do so, we multiply our ability to make broad social change.
3) Opportunities to change the world of business itself. As I’ve newly entered the world of being an entrepreneur, I’ve quickly noticed that we carry some social assumptions about ‘doing business’ that can be very toxic and harmful, and just feel untrue to me. While I appreciate the value of not personalizing everything that happens in my work, the idea that ‘it’s not personal, it’s just business’ denies the reality that our work is part of our lives, and that our business choices have real implications on real people. The assumption that doing business requires toughness, detachment, and cold negotiation goes against my experience of good business being all about genuinely connecting with people and understanding their stories. 
Despite my own mother being a badass businesswoman, my whole cultural perception of ‘Business’ was a white man in a suit being mean to people in a fluorescent office, which helps explain why I was somewhat repelled by the concept for many years. My reality, which I see reflected all around me, in my colleagues, clients and professional network, is that Business is a beautiful place full of possibility, connection, passion, creativity and sometimes miracles. 
Alongside the opportunities we now face in our own careers and in uplifting each other, as women in business we have the potential to change how business is done, to reject oppressive models and to put forth new visions of collectivity and empowerment for the future of business as a whole. I’m excited to be on this journey, and I hope you’ll join me, today and onwards. 
Lots of love,
– Frances
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