• Rachelle Spero

Female Founders Leading Successful Unicorns and IPOs


In 2021, female founders raised $40.4 billion in investments and reached $59 billion in exits, an all-time high. That’s the good news. The bad news: Despite the unprecedented success, female founders attracted only 2% of all U.S. venture capital investments made last year.

Although women founders are raising more, they have a long way to go to match their male counterparts. Founders who plan to go public, raise funding or achieve a successful exit would benefit from knowing how strong leaders lead the industry, raise visibility for themselves and their brands and engage with employees, customers, media, investors and other key stakeholders.


The Leadership Communication Scorecard


After launching the SutherlandGold Scorecard on the remote leadership of CEOs at startups and high-growth companies, our follow-up report uses the same Scorecard metrics to evaluate 10 female founders who led their companies to breakout IPO success or achieved unicorn status.


The Female Founders Scorecard reveals how the top female founders share common characteristics, regardless of their specific communication strategies and leadership styles, including the ability to:

  • Innovate Constantly — They have market foresight and are constantly innovating products and services to serve unmet needs.

  • Lead with Empathy — Their leadership demonstrates their innate understanding of what employees need and they take action by offering unique benefits to support well-being, work-life challenges and mental health.

  • Stand for Something — Female leaders aren’t afraid to champion diversity, equality and inclusion and they take action by changing industry norms, improving company policies, and fighting for new laws.

  • Reject Double Standards — Regardless of the conscious and unconscious gender bias female founders encounter, they persist, pushing through countless funding rejections and media questioning by redirecting the conversation to their company’s brand and business results.

  • Embrace Modern Storytelling — Female founders integrate personal stories into their leadership journeys, blending their professional and personal lives to build their brands across channels.With these shared characteristics in mind, we used our CEO Scorecard methodology to analyze four dimensions of leadership including business performance, media visibility, leadership communication and social media engagement. Here are the highlights from the study.

With these shared characteristics in mind, we used our CEO Scorecard methodology to analyze four dimensions of leadership including business performance, media visibility, leadership communication and social media engagement. Here are the final scores.

These successful female founders are powerful storytellers who create cohesive and clear communication links between themselves and their businesses. Our study shows how tenacious female leaders get ahead by prioritizing similar leadership strategies in their communication. You can download the full study here.


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