By Chris Olsen
The midterm election matters more than ever—especially for women. One group of women in particular is in a unique position to drive social progress and change this election: female business founders. There are currently more than 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. employing over 9 million people and accounting for $1.8 trillion in revenue. Female-founded businesses are a critical part of the economic engine that makes America work.
The Nov. 6 midterm election provides an important opportunity to vote more women into office. Not only do women in elected positions advocate for women’s issues more often than their male counterparts (even those that share the same views), but they are also more likely to invite other women to the table as advisors. And more women in office would make a real difference in the lives of women across the country.
For small business owners, issues like the economy and regulations matter. Midterms provide a chance for you to support candidates who care about the economic advancement of women and provide a plan for a stable economy moving forward. Consider tax reform, trade policies and tariffs and how these issues may impact your business in the future. As a collective voice, women business owners have the power to influence many important issues in this election, including pay equity, minimum wage, family leave, health care reform, reproductive health and more.
As you prepare for the midterm election, some considerations and inspiration:
It’s time to take our seats at the table.
In the U.S., all of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 Senate seats, numerous governor and mayor positions, state legislative posts and judgeships are on the ballot. This is a pivotal election for women, and doing your homework is critical. You can learn more about the nominees in each state by visiting the nonpartisan Know Your Candidates resource. You can also research how an incumbent voted in the House or Senate and find out more about their position on a specific issue or bill by checking the Library of Congress website.
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” —Shirley Chisholm, first African American congresswoman
Our votes are our voice.
Voter suppression is a real thing and has the potential to impact the midterm election. If you’re at least 18 years old on Election Day, and either born in the United States or naturalized, you are eligible to vote—and your voice is important. Don’t give up your voice or your power by neglecting to register! Every state, with the exception of North Dakota, requires registration prior to voting. If you’re not sure of your voter status, check Vote.org. Thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia offer online voter registration—find out more at the National Conference of State Legislatures. You can also register in person. Find information about your state’s voter registration at USA.gov.
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” —Malala Yousafzai
Now is not the time for complacency. Your vote matters! If you know you won’t be able to make it to your polling place on Election Day, you may be eligible to vote via absentee ballot or by mail. Check your state’s website for more information. If you haven’t taken advantage of early voting (available in 37 states plus the District of Columbia), plan to head over to your polling place to rock the vote in person.
Consider your timing—polling places tend to be busiest before and after typical work hours. Remember, employers are required to provide time off work for employees to vote. Think about gathering up friends and family and heading to the polls together or offering a ride to someone you know who may be in need of transportation. Voting is required by law to be accessible to people with disabilities—check with your local election officials for information about the accessibility of your polling place.
And don’t forget your ID. Voters are required to show some form of identification in 34 states. Typically, acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license or passport, but some states accept a document with your name on it such as a bank statement or utility bill. If you’re not sure about the voter ID laws in your state, check before heading to the polls at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“If American women would increase their voting turnout by 10 percent, I think we would see an end to all budget cuts in programs benefitting women and children.” —Coretta Scott King
About the author: Chris Olsen is an author and broadcast media maven turned communications consultant. Through her work as a consultant, Chris realized her WHY—to empower women-owned businesses by sharing her gifts as a writer, storyteller and coach. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so. The ultimate goal of My Founder Story is to establish an empowered, confident community of women who courageously share their story with the world.