Dear Trump: Putting women to work is a good idea for our economy
© Getty Images

President-elect Trump: I’m writing this open letter to you as a woman, an immigrant, an entrepreneur, and someone who supported your opponent.

I am also writing this as a call for unity, knowing that in place of divisiveness we need collaboration. It’s clear that we won’t agree on a great deal of issues we will face in the coming years, but I hope we can agree that supporting women entrepreneurs will pay major dividends for our nation and for the millions of Americans who have felt left out of our recent economic recovery. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Mr. Trump, we’ve all heard you once say that a working woman is “a dangerous thing.” If you have evolved on this issue and now believe that having our daughters join our sons in the workplace is not “a dangerous thing,” what better way to show it than making supporting women entrepreneurs a priority?

I’m a living example of what we can accomplish for America’s economy if women are given the opportunity to start their own businesses. Put simply, women entrepreneurs are powerful job creators. Every entrepreneur typically hires at least one other person — and in many cases, several hundred.

As your administration assembles its plan for creating U.S. jobs, the truly “dangerous thing” would be to fail to take full advantage of every resource we have.

That includes women entrepreneurs who are just what this economy needs. The White House Council on Women and Girls and the Small Business Administration have already laid the groundwork, and with your attention, we can take the efforts to the next level. 

Starting a business is hard. But we know some basic support can go a long way in helping entrepreneurs succeed. Through an organization I founded, FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship), more than 75,000 women around the world become entrepreneurs through access to small loans, business resources, education, and leadership training.

I never expected to be doing this inspiring work, much less starting and growing my own skincare business – in an industry that generates more women entrepreneurs than any other. But my own story is a case study in what it takes to put women to work for America’s economy.

I immigrated from the U.K. in the 1980s, launching Dermalogica with no bank loans or outside investors. While it was challenging starting the company with very little capital and without a college education, I did have three key factors in my favor: a practical skill set as a licensed skin care therapist, a gap in the marketplace I knew I could fill, and the determination to make it work. 

As I learned firsthand, acquiring a set of skills is the quickest route to becoming an entrepreneur. When I was 2, my father died, forcing my mother to suddenly re-enter the workforce to support our family.

I grew up with constant reminders to “learn to do something” because job skills will take you far. That’s especially true now. More than half the jobs that will be available in 2020 won’t require a four-year college degree, but 65 percent will require training beyond high school. We need more vocational programs, starting in middle schools and going all the way through community colleges.

And corporate America should be encouraged to offer paid apprenticeship programs — because as you know all too well, much can be learned by a being an apprentice.

My own career started with practical, hands-on training. From there I discovered a need: unlike my homeland in the U.K. which offered advanced training in skin therapy, training in America was minimal, leaving skin therapists without the skill set to be successful.

So I started an institute that today trains more than 100,000 skin care therapists a year, creating new careers and ultimately establishing a brand new industry for America. That’s the kind of new thinking and “made in America” industry-building we need today.

We have a lot of work to do to provide opportunities for the millions of Americans who feel our economy has left them behind. How about we start by working together to unleash the vast potential of women entrepreneurs?

Jane D. Wurwand is the co-founder and chief visionary of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute, and earlier this year was appointed a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, working with the federal government to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.