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News Archive

Women-Owned Firms Step on the Gas

By Emily Laermer

Crain’s New York Business - September 09, 2013
Original Story
 

More than two-thirds of the companies on Crain's list of top women-owned businesses posted gains in revenue last year.
 
Since 2011, TransPerfect has increased its New York City head count by at least 140 people, opened its first office in South Africa and acquired a company specializing in big data. "We have goals every year to grow to certain levels," said Liz Elting, president and chief executive of TransPerfect. Last year, the company, which provides translation and interpreting services, posted $342.4 million in revenue, up 14% from the year before.
Like TransPerfect, more than two-thirds of the companies on Crain's list of top women-owned businesses posted gains in revenue last year. As a group, the top 25 firms saw their cumulative revenue grow 8.9% in 2012, to $2.2 billion, from the year earlier. Collectively, the companies project 2013 will be even better, with revenue expected to rise an additional 10.3%.
 
The growth reflects nationwide momentum for women-owned firms. More are reaching the million-dollar revenue mark than ever before. Last year, 152,900 hit that threshold, up 30.7% in the past decade, according to a report by American Express Open, a payment-card issuer for small businesses. That number is still small, with such firms making up just 1.8% of the nation's 8.3 million women-owned businesses. However, just as on the Crain's list, the fastest-growing group was companies generating more than $10 million in sales. The number of firms with revenue in that range grew 56.5% since 2002.
 
"There are sources of support for that level that really did not exist 10 or more years ago," said Julie Weeks, a research adviser at American Express Open. In addition to the improving economy, Ms. Weeks credited the growth to a greater number of successful female role models and improved networking opportunities for women. Some fast-growing firms in which the majority of equity is originally owned by women end up selling a substantial stake to outside investors who are men—and don't get counted as woman-owned as a result, she notes.
 
Studies have shown that companies with greater gender diversity often outperform firms that include a smaller percentage of women. TransPerfect has benefited from this phenomenon. It runs a group that helps it retain some of its top female leaders.
 
"The company is stronger for that," said Ms. Elting, noting that about half of the 75 members of her senior management board are women. "We've always had a lot of women at the company, and we're doing our best to increase that every day."