Women Count Here

By Beth Caron Nilssen

These days, it’s becoming more and more common for women to own businesses. In fact, the number of female-led businesses in the U.S. increased by 58% between 2007 and 2018.

The franchising sector is no exception. According to Franchise.com, women franchisees are one of the fastest growing segments. I certainly see that in my work recruiting prospective franchisees. When I talk to them, I like to share the stories of women in our system who are among our most successful owners.

What contributes to their success? There are a couple of things at play: One: Great Clips is a people-first business, which makes it a natural fit for a lot of women (and for men, too!). Women are usually the decision-makers in a family when it comes to shopping and purchasing, so it makes sense that women business owners have the experience and intuition to know what their customers want and the best way to deliver it.

Two: The Great Clips corporate office is led by a lot of women. In fact, the majority of executive roles at Great Clips, Inc. are filled by women. I’ve heard some of our female franchisees say having this demographic at the top has been a great opportunity to be mentored by other women.

From the people who work in the corporate office, to the franchisees who operate as independent business owners of walk-in hair salons, to the salon managers and stylists—females play visible roles as decision makers throughout the Great Clips organization. It sends a message: Women count here.

So, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Great Clips was recently named by Forbes as one of the best employers for women. The list was compiled after surveying 60,000 workers in the U.S., including 40,000 women, who worked at businesses with at least 1,000 employees. They were asked about diversity, gender gaps, parental leave, discrimination, and pay equity.

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Perhaps the most visible beneficiaries of the female-supportive culture at Great Clips are the 40,000+ stylists who work in the salons. Those of us who work for Great Clips, Inc. in the corporate office are always looking for ways to support franchisees in their efforts to support their salon teams. Franchisees run their own businesses but are encouraged to offer opportunities for advancement, additional training and education, and other benefits that can make a difference in a woman’s career trajectory.

There are plenty of examples of stylists who have become managers, general managers, area directors, corporate employees, and even franchisees—thanks in large part to salon owners who championed them and opened their eyes to what was possible. There are also stories within the corporate office of vice presidents who started out as stylists in a Great Clips salon and ultimately worked their way to leading this billion-dollar brand! (Check out this story about what our VP of Franchise Services & HR learned from her first job, and how struggling as a waitress could be why she’s at Great Clips today!)

A few years ago at an all-staff meeting at the home office, Rhoda Olsen (then-CEO, now vice chair of the board) shared a moving story about an organization that helps women in South Africa get out of poverty through microlending.

After the presentation, I told her how impressed I was that just $50 could make such a difference in these women’s lives—sometimes a life-or-death difference. It made me think about what I was doing to make a difference in the world. One reason I love my job is that I get to have an impact on the lives of people who are ready to start a business by investing in a franchise, but it’s on such a different scale than what’s going on in other countries.

Rhoda said she often struggles with a similar feeling. She knows that a franchisor’s primary focus is to help their franchisees succeed (at Great Clips, we call this “building a legacy”), and she does everything she can to make that real. But, she also remembers why she does this: for the stylists. She knows what it was like growing up without much, and she has empathy for the very-real challenges a lot of stylists deal with every day. So, when her job feels overwhelming and the pressures mount, she goes back to her why: giving these women the opportunity to work and make a difference in their own lives.

You can’t help but feel that this is the kind of organization you want to work with when you hear that, and it perfectly captures what people outside the company understood when they named Great Clips as a “best place” to work.

Beth (Caron) Nilssen
Director of Franchise Development| Great Clips, Inc.
800-947-1143 | franchise@greatclips.com

If you’d like to be part of an organization that Forbes says is a Best Employer for Women, give me a call.