As the country takes steps toward economic recovery amidst an ongoing pandemic, female business owners have outpaced men in taking decisive actions to address the changing business landscape since the start of the pandemic. According to a recent survey of women-owned businesses by PNC, only half (51 percent) of women-owned businesses say their business is operating similar to pre-pandemic, compared to 62 percent of men-owned businesses.

Much of the focus of these actions has been on behalf of their employees, with women-owned businesses more likely than their men-owned counterparts to have implemented health and safety improvements (49 percent), allowed more flexible work arrangements (49 percent), and provided caregiving support and other benefits (14 percent).

In addition to efforts designed to attract and retain more diverse and equitable workforces, nine out of 10 (89 percent) women-owned companies report taking action to encourage worker vaccination compared to 78 percent of men-owned companies.

“The optimism reflected in this survey is significantly higher than in our previous surveys of women business owners and this year there is an undeniable correlation between safeguarding their workforce and their future financial prospects,” said Beth Marcello, director of PNC Women’s Business Development.

Women business owners differed substantially from their men counterparts in the area of social responsibility, according to the survey. Six in 10 (60 percent) women business owners have formally considered or reviewed their policies supporting diversity and inclusion, gender pay equity, volunteering or charitable giving, or sustainability or the environment in the past 12 months. This is double the percentage of men business owners who have done the same (30 percent).

Both women (36 percent) and men (44 percent) increased wages and salaries during the pandemic to retain and attract talent, and said they plan to increase compensation (27 percent and 37 percent, respectively) in the next six months.

“It is clear from the data that female business owners are prepared for the challenges they face; in fact, more than half attributed their optimism to their own resilience and resourcefulness,” Marcello said. “The support they provide for each other and their employees is key to thriving and why we’re optimistic about the future for women-owned businesses and their growing contribution to economic prosperity overall.”

About the survey and Project 257SM: Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality

The survey, among small and medium-sized businesses with self-reported revenue of $100,000 to $250 million was conducted by telephone among a national sample of women’s business owners during August and September.

Under the leadership of Marcello and with support of the bank’s 4,000 PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates, PNC recently launched Project 257℠: Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality, an initiative designed to help close the 257-year economic gender gap and expand on PNC’s decades-long track record of supporting female financial decision makers.

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