How Dell and 80 other companies sparked the conversation about #whatweneedtosucceed
Dell, along with 80 companies, released a letter to the next US president on behalf of women entrepreneurs, detailing a campaign entitled #whatweneedtosucceed.
The letter states that while women, who are starting businesses twice as fast as men, face unique challenges with high failure rates, receiving only seven percent of venture capital and being represented in only seven percent of media stories.
If the women and men participated equally in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, according to the letter, the US GDP could rise by 30 billion, according to McKinsey Global Institute’s report entitled, “The Power of Parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $ 12 trillion to global growth.”
“We are looking to open up networks, start a conversation with policy makers and the public about leadership and policy in regards to entrepreneurship,” said Elizabeth Gore, entrepreneur in residence at Dell. “Our suggestions for the necessary elements for success for women entrepreneurs focus on access to capital, expanding and supporting networks and markets, and addressing the changing face of business through technology.”
The impetus for the campaign was an observation made by Gore during the election season.
“There has been very little talk this election season about small business, entrepreneurship, and female business owners,” said Gore. “We wanted to figure out a way to get those conversations back into the forefront, by speaking directly to our politicians.”
Dell, according to Gore, provided immediate support, by developing a small team to push the campaign.
“Dell understands entrepreneurship very well, in large part, I believe, because our founder [Michael S. Dell] is still at the helm. That is very rare of an enterprise company,” Gore said. “Dell intuitively responded by creating an advocacy team, who will go and speak with policy makers and people around the country.”
Gore and the team, in the hopes of bolstering support for the campaign, contacted companies within their personal networks about putting their name on the letter, as well as promoting the campaign once it was launched.
“One thing that surprised me was the sense of optimism everyone had when I spoke with them; there was not not a person who didn’t say this was a priority,” Gore said. “We were all focused on less about what hasn’t worked, more of what has worked, and figuring out a way to enhance it.”
In its first day #whatweneedtosucceed had 15 million impressions. Gore said the statistic was created in large part by the personal stories told using the hashtag and the male entrepreneurs who promoted it.
While the statistics show a successful campaign, Gore said the most important goal of the campaign is to continue the conversation, and there is no better person to speak to than the next US president.
“We hope that you will make fostering female entrepreneurship a domestic policy priority during your upcoming term and look forward to working with you and your administration to implement the above recommendations and fulfill one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time.”