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Revenues down but spirits up for women business leaders, reports FIU survey

The recession has had a major impact on Florida businesses and non-profit organizations. But, overwhelmingly,women executives throughout the state demonstrate confidence, hope, resilience and optimism.

Those findings are from the 2010 Florida's Woman-led Businesses study, the fifth of its kind conducted by the Center for Leadership at Florida International University (FIU). More than 300 women leaders, including board chairwomen, CEOs, presidents and owners, responded to this year's survey which again focuses on the successes and challenges of women who lead businesses and organizations statewide.

"Thirty-nine percent of the women reported that revenue growth had declined by more than five percent over the last two years," said Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the College of Business Administration and academic director of the center. "In the 2009 study, only 29 percent were reporting a similar decline," continued Elam.

Elam presented key results of the survey to more than 200 attendees at a luncheon on June 3, 2010 at Jungle Island. The event, hosted by The Commonwealth Institute of South Florida, honored the top 50 women leaders from for-profit companies and the top 10 from not-for-profits. Over 200 people attended a luncheon that honored a number of Florida's most prominent women business leaders.

The data showed that the biggest pressure facing women leaders is maintaining profitability. Almost half the respondents (47 percent) admitted that this issue "keeps them up at night." "However, the women remain optimistic about the future and resilient in face of the difficulties," Elam said. "Over 43 percent expect revenue growth of more than five percent over the next two years."

Women leaders are satisfied with their work-life balance, Elam told the group, and are experienced and welle ducated with strong, positive leadership styles.

Florida women leaders are ahead of the curve in healthcare.

The majority of Florida women executives are very concerned (43 percent) or somewhat concerned (16 percent) that a national healthcare plan will create additional costs for their business. But the survey found that Florida businesses and organizations led by women already are more likely than other U.S. businesses to be providing healthcare coverage for employees. More than two-thirds (69 percent) currently do so despite not being required by law, compared to the national average of 60 percent.