From Business to Banking, New Initiatives Seek Equity for Women

Financial institutions introduce new banking programs designed to back the growth of women-owned small businesses and provide diverse and inclusive staffing to support them

In the wake of the “Great Resignation,” women are leaving the traditional workplace behind and spearheading a new wave of entrepreneurship that remakes the rules of work for our modern times. But as women increasingly take on new leadership roles, is the lack of financial backing and support for women-led businesses hindering their growth? “It is well-known that women- and minority-owned businesses are terribly far behind in accessing capital to fund their startups and small businesses,” says Nancy Aichholz, a contributor to the Entrepreneur Leadership Network and CEO of Aviatra Accelerators.

While women own 40% or more of the businesses and generate $1.8 trillion a year in economic activity, they’re not receiving equitable backing for their businesses, especially as they start or expand. In fact, only 16% of women-led businesses are approved for conventional business loans, and still see “significant gaps in access to capital” with women entrepreneurs “less likely to look for financing for their small businesses,” according to Independent Banker. But Nancy Aichholz says things are changing: “Many banks have women’s networks, programs for minority-owned businesses and are hiring more people to help cultivate those relationships.”

Initiatives like M&T Bank’s resources to support pandemic recovery among minority- and women-owned small businesses and Wells Fargo’s capital investment program designed to increase the growth of women-owned small businesses are helping. At the same time, financial institutions themselves are focused on ensuring their own staffing internally reflects the diversity they support externally. Citigroup recently exceeded targets to increase the percentage of women and Black executives. And KeyCorp – the parent company of KeyBank – just announced progress in diversity, equity and inclusion.

For the latest data, news and trends in financial services, like business lending for women and banking’s DE&I focus, stay tuned to Believe in Banking. For insights on best practices in banking and meeting consumers at the point of need, contact Adrenaline’s banking and credit union experts at