The gender equity debate has raged for many years. There has been some small wins and in turn some leaps backward, and these trends have been across the business landscape. Trying to buck these trends, the micro business space (5 employees or less, making up over 60% of businesses in Australia), has seen the growth not only as a whole, but in proportion of women entering and succeeding in the market.
Whether women are fed up with the gender wage gap, seeking roles with more flexibility, increasingly women are forging the way, with women making up 34% of all small business operators, approximately 668,670 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016).
The HR Coach Research Institute conducted research on why individuals leave the corporates to start a micro business, no surprise on the results, which clearly identify the push/pull factors for both males and females. 'Lack of flexibility' and 'not liking their jobs' were the top push factors for females and males respectively, while the main motivators for joining the micro market were, for women, 'flexible working life' and for men 'financial freedom'.
Finding balance in a busy work and family life can be challenging in employment as flexibility is often not available. Self-employment allows individuals to dictate work hours, not necessarily meaning less but being available when it counts, not to also forget the gratification of professional independence and creative autonomy that is seldom available in employment.
Despite the reliance of the Australian economy on the micro market, businesses with less than 5 employees face specific challenges, especially around building scale, managing client workload and managing functions within the business, given that in a micro business workflow and certainly evolution happens differently. Women business owners in the research identified very quickly that support was critical to business success - community as well as personal family support. With this in place opportunities can be plentiful.
An example of this is the HR Coach Network, for over 10 years HR Coach has been helping HR and business professionals achieve their goals by providing a foundation and support structure that makes it possible for them to turn knowledge and experience into a consulting business.
Professionals are drawn to the HR Coach Network to gain access to tools, methods and intellectual property, as well as market leading research.
Coaching is particularly effective in small to medium enterprises (SME's) and has certainly become an accepted service, given the typical SME has no devoted human resource function. HR Coaches have an opportunity to do great work that makes a positive impact on employees, business owners and the local community.
The HR Coach Australasia Network has over 130 members in Australia and New Zealand.
The proportion of male to female members is evenly split. This is a statistic that we are particularly proud of, when one considers that in middle to executive management the ratio is heavily weighted to males. The flexibility of a human resource and business coaching business has allowed mums to return to work, business professionals to recognise their real worth and most importantly, for individuals to rediscover the enjoyment that comes from adding value to businesses.