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The Business of Women

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There is a lot of talk these days about what women don't do. We don't head Fortune 500 Companies. We don't sit on corporate boards. We don't hold key political seats.

Forbes reported that 4% of America's largest companies are run by women - that's 20 out of 500. France had to make a law to force men to appoint women to corporate boards, while the U.S. lags far behind. Although women hold up half the American sky, only 17 senators out of 100 are female! Hillary Clinton has done a remarkable job as the third consecutive female Secretary of State, but why isn't she president?

Clearly, gender inequality continues to define the lives of American women - lack of working mother policies, adequate childcare, opportunity, and professional and cultural prejudices slow the advance of feminine leadership.

Despite this, women are positively impacting our communities and our world every day. As Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the New School and advocate for women's mentorship, Diana Ayton-Shenker explains it, "Women sustain the species." From business, to schools, communities, houses of worship, public and private institutions, and households, countless women are making an important difference in the lives of millions.

What do women really do? Business is one of the areas where women are most notably advancing. According to Catalyst, women in management and professional positions increased by only 10% from the "Working Girl" 1980s to 1995. In the last decade, however, the number has increased by over 30%. If we measure progress by economic and leadership standards, these statistics show we are at least moving in the right direction.

While business is a source for economic prosperity and empowerment, doing "better" business that makes a positive impact on society is what we at the sustainable business journal Good Business New York™ are most interested in advancing. The dynamic of improving our economic lives while resolving social problems is the most powerful force in the 21st century economy. Make a living and make a big difference has become the call to action for all enlightened business leaders - male and female.

Like the amazing women that carried the torch before us, millions of women are confidently paying it forward to the next generation. The lack of access to credit and investment capital to women entrepreneurs has birthed a whole movement of women moving money to other women around nationally and internationally. Venture capital and angel investment funds have emerged focusing on the economic empowerment of women.

Two investment funds worth noting include the East Coast based Golden Seeds and the West Coast Women's Venture Capital Fund. Headed by former senior executives, investment bankers, and techpreneurs, these funds are focused on helping talented women entrepreneurs seed and scale their business ventures. Golden Seeds introduced the new term "Positive Equity," emphasizing a "values-first approach to private equity investment."

The quest to circulate capital to women around the globe has spurned a new crop of social entrepreneurs and philanthropists including "Women Moving Millions" and Calvert Foundation's WINWIN. These organizations channel capital into the hands of women entrepreneurs around the globe who are left out of traditional funding. The newest trend of women investor networks advances the roles and economic sustainability of low-income women. The Femme Haves are focused on helping Have Nots become Have Too's. Count on women to be inclusive.

Yet women in business do so much more than we even recognize. They move the needle forward for sustainability, corporate responsibility, social entrepreneurship, social good, business integrity, human rights, economic justice, community engagement, and executive accountability.

To honor and celebrate what women do has tremendous social value. It inspires more women to step into leading roles in whatever field they choose and affect the change we all want to see in the world. Women leaders bring natural qualities of collaboration, courage, and conviction to solving some of our greatest social and economic challenges.

To that end, Good Business New York™ has named 25 Dynamic Women who are Changing the World through Work and Business. These Leading Women include economists, lawyers, thought leaders, journalists, policy makers, activists, investors, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, scientists, quants, and academics who are impacting our lives in powerful and positive ways every day.

We live in times of crises. Critical social and economic challenges are more important than ever to address, and even more important to resolve. There are champions and change makers among us who are creating real and lasting change. They may not be "household names" but they are nevertheless shaping breakthroughs in business and social innovation through personal sacrifice, commitment, passion, and purpose.

We celebrate these dynamic women and the tens of thousands of others who inspire and empower us to create a better world. They offer us hope that a more equitable and sustainable economy is possible, one that serves all levels of society fairly and responsibly and doesn't leave millions of the world's inhabitants out.

Monika Mitchell is a renowned thought-leader and Founder/CEO of Good Business New York. GBNY recently announced Good Business Leading Women 2012: 25 Dynamic Women who are Changing the World through Work and Business.