A feminine approach to business

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Hillary Clinton recently created a stir among her critics by suggesting the future is female, and while she didn’t necessary specify a particular realm, in the short-term she might be more accurate about the business world than about politics. I thought about this recently while watching a local premiere of the documentary film Dream Girl, which chronicled the entrepreneurial stories of women.

It’s a film that should be shown in every middle school social studies class, but it’s also a reminder of a growing and powerful trend. The National Women’s Business Council predicts that female-run businesses will increase by 50% over the next five years, a development that could have implications for everything from growing the local technology sector to pay equity.

Dream Girl didn’t tell the story of entrepreneur and talent scout Karin Roest, but it had the same vibe of her “meditation and margaritas” (holistic) approach to business and life. According to the globetrotting Roest, who spent an entire year meditating in silence in Burma, this approach is especially appealing to women because of their multifaceted nature. As more women launch businesses, she believes it’s likely to become the dominant approach to running a venture.

For decades, Roest notes that women have believed they need to act more like men in the workplace. As her career in the entertainment industry unfolded, she came to realize that if women apply more of their natural, multitasking gifts in the office, they tend to get ahead in their careers. “The meditation and margarita concept really comes from my personal background,” she notes, “but now I’ve tied that to running my own business and also when I partner or work with employees or corporations, as well.”

One of the reasons she’s so optimistic about female entrepreneurship is she senses that business organizations are becoming more flexible in allowing women to show their natural gifts. While there is still work to do, she cites studies that show investors are beginning to see the value of placing their bets with women because they are better at building long-term relationships, they come across as more trustworthy, and their companies generate healthier returns on investment. Given the untoward behavior they encounter, they likely would be more proactive than men in building a respectful business culture.

“We want that more holistic approach to business,” says Roest, now based in Mexico City. “Women are naturally more empathetic, but we can also be assertive. We can put our foot down and know how to command respect and authority in the workplace and in a boardroom full of men.”

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