CommBank Women in Focus have partnered with Women’s Agenda to publish a new research report, ‘Grit & Resilience: How women in small business navigate crisis’. As part of the report launch, CommBank hosted a live online panel discussion facilitated by Angela Priestley co-founder of Women’s Agenda — a news platform covering how women live and work — unpacking the unique challenges that women entrepreneurs and small business owners face in today’s ever-changing economic landscape. 

The report, commissioned by CommBank Women in Focus and conducted by Women’s Agenda, surveyed over 800 women business owners across the country. The results show that despite facing significant obstacles like the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing gender inequality in many areas, women in business remain resilient and determined to succeed.

For the discussion, Ms Priestley was joined by an expert line-up: entrepreneur and founder of digital political data start-up Polipedia, Su Dharmapala; Co-Head of Investments at the Australian Business Growth Fund, Ghazaleh Lyari; CommBank Senior Economist, Belinda Allen; and CommBank CFO of Business Banking, Victoria Hickey. 

The panel spoke to their personal career experiences and addressed issues such as the significant gender gap in venture capital investment in Australia, the need for more female representation at leadership levels and the systemic and institutional barriers that need to change to enable even greater success for women in business.

Despite the challenges identified, the research showed positives too. 

“So much success comes from our networks”, said Ms Priestley, with 57 per cent of women founders saying support from other women in business has contributed to their success. And promisingly, nearly 80 per cent of those surveyed are confident they’ll be able to grow their business in the year ahead.

CommBank’s Victoria Hickey pointed out an overarching theme from the report, that “women are increasingly using their lived experiences to solve complex issues”, with the panel highlighting the significant opportunities in health and care industries. 

View and download the full report:

Grit & Resilience: How women in small business navigate crisis


View report


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