Challenging Times for Women Business Owners
with Candace Waterman of Women Impacting Public Policy
Women entrepreneurs have historically faced challenges in gaining access to capital and balancing family life, and research shows COVID-19 has exacerbated these obstacles.
Candace Waterman, President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy, reflects on the issues central to the success of women business owners.
Mar 01, 2021
Anderson: Women entrepreneurs have historically faced difficulties in gaining access to capital and balancing family life with their careers and, according to recent data, these obstacles have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. There is no question that many businesses are struggling, but what can be done to keep them healthy and operational during and beyond the pandemic? Well, it's a question that Candace Waterman is here to answer. She is the president and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy. And, Candace, thank you so much for being here.
Waterman: Thank you so much for having me, Tetiana. It's an honor.
Anderson: So let's talk about businesses, in general. Anyone who's going to start one is going to have challenges. We know that. But talk to us a little bit about what that means for women, specifically, and how the pandemic has sort of exacerbated some of these already existing challenges.
Waterman: Absolutely. No matter whether you are an employee or an employer, the jackie of all trades comes about. That means you have to look at what it is that you're providing, you have to be a teacher and a student, you have to wear so many different hats when you are dealing with this environment right now. And we have to unpack those one at the time so that we can deal with the sustainability and having a really strong ecosystem around us for success.
Anderson: So it's not only the challenges from the pandemic, but there's other, historical, challenges at play. One of them is this thing we call systemic racism. We talk about it in many areas of life, but what does systemic racism look like in business and how have you seen it sort of most show up in the ecosystem of trying to stand up a business?
Waterman: You know, it's really interesting because it's just that, what you said, systemic. I think, right now, and especially since all of the activities that transpired during the summer, with the George Floyd murder, you know, it really did shine a light on what the problem is because I think, as a country, as a whole, we had an opportunity to stand still and look at what was going on and, now, that makes us aware of it. We say, "Yes, there is a problem," and acknowledge that there is a problem that exists." Then we have to look at what the impact of that problem is. And that is, from a Black business owner, particularly, Black women business owners, you know, when I go to get a loan at a bank or at a financial institution, you know, are my terms and conditions the same as my nonblack counterpart? You know, do I have to have different collateral? You know, what is it that I am responsible for and what are those barriers that are really causing me not to be able to move forward? And those really are real, right? And we see those and I think, as of right now, we have a lot of companies that are really committed to changing those issues that we have. But to your point, again, it's systemic and we have to deal with it at the core. We can't just put a Band-Aid over it.
Anderson: So, if something like systemic racism is left unchecked, what does that sort of look like a year down the line, five years down the line, ten years down the line?
Waterman: You know, unfortunately, it's going to look like what it does today because we are in this place of sort of stagnation. The good thing is, is there have been many programs that have come out since the activities that have occurred last summer, so that we can raise our awareness, raise the impact, and so that companies, meaning government agencies and public-sector agencies, can increase their spend with businesses across the country.
Anderson: Change often comes through leadership of some sort and I know that you've worked with a variety of presidential administrations on the idea of business development, women, women of color. What do you hope to accomplish with this latest, Biden-Harris, administration? What do you really think the priorities need to be?
Waterman: I think resources, resources, resources. That are funding resources; that is business resources, in terms of skills and tactical information, so that businesses can compete and raise and increase their capacity; and, of course, opportunities in the supply chain. One of the things that we are working with here at WIPP is our RaiseUP program, and it is for women of color, in particular, Black women business owners, to do three things -- raise awareness, raise impact, and raise spend. And it includes three sets of constituents. That is the Black woman business owner, our corporate and agency partners, as well as our allies, because it takes all of us to be successful in this environment.
Anderson: That is very true. And, Candace, if people want to find out more about your work, where can they go? what's the website?
Waterman: That's pretty easy. It is... That is wipp.org
Anderson: Candace Waterman, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it.
Waterman: Thank you for having me. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
Anderson: And thank you to our viewers as well for watching. For more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the country, be sure to log on to... I'm Tetiana Anderson.