The largest businesses owned by women had a hand in nearly all of L. A. County’s major industries, racking up $18.9 billion in revenue in 2017.
The total for the top 100 women-owned companies that make up this week’s Business Journal’s list came to a 1.8 percent hike on sales from the prior year.
More than half – 58 – of the companies listed saw increases in annual revenue, while 24 posted declines for the year, five reported flat sales, and 13 were kept even based on Business Journal estimates.
The combined rate of sales growth for the women-owned businesses lags the combined performance of companies on the Business Journal’s recent list of the 100 largest minority-owned businesses, a group that climbed to $18.7 billion in revenue in 2017 thanks to a 6.4 percent cumulative increase from a year earlier.
The women-owned businesses, defined by those with at least 50 percent female ownership, remain skewed toward professional business services, including staffing and advertising firms, entertainment and other creative sectors.
The financial and technology sectors are scarce on the women-owned business list. Investment firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners in Beverly Hills – which ranks No. 7 and is 51 percent owned by Chief Executive Lauren Leichtman – was the most prominent of a handful of entries from the financial sector on the list.
Four of the 100 companies are technology enterprises. They include IT service providers – No. 10 Dynamic Systems Inc. in El Segundo and No. 12 GST Inc. in Cerritos – as well as staffing firms specializing in IT, such as No. 20 El Segundo-based RJT Computers Inc. and No. 31 Beverly Hills-based TechLink Systems Inc. That’s compared to staffing and advertising/marketing/public relations firms, of which there are about 12 each.
The comparatively small number of women-owned businesses in tech on the list doesn’t come as a surprise to experts despite the growth of Silicon Beach as a major tech hub in the last five years.
“Tech has historically been and still is a male-dominated field,” said Susan Harmeling, associate professor of clinical entrepreneurship at USC’s Marshall School of Business. “Attitudes from cultural, social and familial expectations of women, and the discouragement young girls’ face in STEM fields has resulted in what we see today.”
The top three businesses were co-founded by women and their spouses. Lynda Resnick’s Sawtelle-based Wonderful Co. is ranked No.1 on the list with $4.2 billion in revenue, a 12 percent decline year over year. Next is Jin Sook Chang’s Forever 21 Inc. in Lincoln Heights with $4 billion in revenue, an increase of 17.7 percent compared to 2016 and third on the list is Peggy Cherng’s Panda Restaurant Group based in Rosemead, clocking in with $3 billion in revenue, up 3.3 percent year over year.
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