While the panel is a mix of men and women, Barbara Corcoran and Lori Greiner are known for their gut instincts and are often sought out by contestants. As women who have built profitable empires from the ground up and show their business savvy every week on the show, the two female sharks have some thoughts on whether there will one day be an all-women panel in the tank.
Gender and ROI
Kevin O’Leary – aka “Mr. Wonderful” – is known as the most abrasive shark in the tank. Believing in telling it like it is, the millionaire investor never minces words on whether he thinks an idea is good or bad and holds entrepreneurs accountable to bring in the cash.
“I’m always about the product… if I own 51 percent of the company and the manager’s not doing the job, I’ll take him behind the barn, shoot him, and get somebody else. Not everybody feels that way,” he told Vulture. “That’s how I feel the real world works. Watch corporate America… You’ve got to perform or you’re gone. Don’t cry me a river. That’s just the way it works.”
O’Leary is actually a big believer in women-owned business, saying that those have brought him his highest rate of return. “I’ve been investing now for over 10 years on things for Shark Tank deals — and other deals that are brought to me because of Shark Tank — and the majority of my returns come from the companies run by women. Now this isn’t some kind of academic research, this is real data. This is real money coming back to me,” O’Leary told CNBC Make It.
Business ‘person’ not business ‘woman’
Greiner’s success in retail products has earned her the moniker “Queen of QVC” as well as millions of dollars. In business, she wants to be viewed as a professional rather than by her gender. “The big thing for me is I never think about myself as a female in business,” she told Enterpreneur in 2014. “I’m a person in business.”
The Shark Tank star encourages other women to focus on the work rather than being a female in the working world. “Don’t think of it at all,” Greiner advised. “It can be a pitfall if you think, ‘I’m a woman and I’m walking in the room and I’m going to be treated different.’ Or ‘This is going to be harder because I’m a woman.’ Don’t think like that. You’re an expert at what you do. You’re on a mission and you are a person in business. Not a woman in business. Ever.”
Corcoran believes that female professionals should capitalize on the skills that women typically possess, such as communication. “People skills are where women really shine in ways that men don’t,” she said, according to Entrepreneur. “We’re better bridge builders, we collaborate better, we don’t stand on ceremony or ego, we’re willing to share credit and we’re more intuitive and trust our gut more. We’re just better at running businesses than men.”
An all-female panel?
While Corcoran and Greiner, along with the rest of the sharks, clearly see the value in women-run businesses, the two female sharks weren’t necessarily on board with the idea of an all-female panel.
“I really believe in gender equality, so I think that’s almost going too far,” Greiner said, as reported by Vulture. “I really feel that everything in life should be 50-50 male and female. Women should have as much opportunity as men. We should be represented the same. There should be a division of labor in the home, too, so that women don’t feel guilty or have a work-life balance issue.”
Corcoran agreed about Greiner’s assessment of sharing the workload on the home front, making her more open to the idea of an all-women panel. “I feel the same way. In my home, I do 95 percent of the work, so I believe 95 percent of the panel should be female,” she commented, adding that she does believe there will one day be all women sitting in the shark seats.
The two professional powerhouses continue to inspire both women and men in building their own businesses and achieving success.
Watch ABC’s Shark Tank on Sunday nights!