Supporting Women in Franchising
Franchising in Australia has been a historically male dominated industry, with many more men involved on both the franchisor and franchisee side. However, as the years go on there are more opportunities for women in franchising, even if they must create them themselves.
The conversation of female representation in the franchise industry is more important than ever, as statistics show the impact that Coronavirus has had on women at work. Globally, despite making up only 39% of employment, women represented 54% of overall job losses as a result of the pandemic.
In fact, in Australia women lost their jobs at a faster rate, likely due to the fact that more females work in jobs that can’t be performed from home. Women account for a higher percentage of informal and casual work, meaning that when economic pressures hit small business owners it is these sorts of roles that are most vulnerable to reduced hours and termination. Within the franchise industry this is particularly relevant with a high number of businesses operating in service industries such as hospitality, health and fitness.
So, how can we work together to support women in franchising, both for the short-term as the nation recovers from the pandemic and in the long-term. It all begins with ensuring that opportunities within franchise networks are made equally available to both men and women. Statistics show that in general women are disproportionately clustered in lower-level support roles, with the numbers thinning at executive levels.
This is due to several factors, but research has shown that it is both the biases of those in hiring positions and the female applicants themselves that can impact their likelihood of promotion. Men are often employed or promoted based upon their potential, whereas women are done so based upon their proven experience. Further, it was found that females are less likely to put themselves forward for a promotion unless they meet 100% of the criteria, unlike men who will do so at 60%.
This indicates that women should be given more assurance that they are equal applicants for opportunities in the workplace, giving them the same confidence to apply for roles as their male counterparts hold. This can be achieved through a range of workplace and industry initiatives.
Considering the franchisor side of the industry, within Australia the Franchise Council of Australia is leading this mission through their Women in Franchising Committee. Their goals are to help create genuine opportunities for women to contribute, network and develop their professional careers within the franchise industry and broader business community. Their representatives across Australia focus on informing policy makers on key issues relating to women in franchising, addressing matters including flexible working arrangements and increasing the appeal of franchising to females.
Whereas on the franchisee side of things, franchise ownership represents an excellent prospect for women who are seeking more flexibility in their working arrangements outside of the typical 9-5. It is also appealing to those who are eager to start their own business and take more control over their employment, removing barriers they may face elsewhere. Typically, women are seen as more risk-adverse, creating the belief that franchising would be an excellent fit over starting a business from scratch.
However, research has found that women are actually more willing to take on risks and embrace innovation in business. In fact, franchising as a model holds appeal for women of all risk-taking propensities; from those who want the security of a tried and testing model, through to those who are willing to pioneer unfamiliar industries with the backing of their own knowledge and skills. Understanding that the factors pulling women into the franchising industry are varied and unique will help franchisors better market and recruit female franchisees in the long-term.
Whether it is as part of the franchisor team or as a franchise owner, women in franchising need to be recognized and supported. We hope to see female representation in the industry increase and applaud the work of groups such as the FCA’s Women in Franchising for committing to making this happen.