Women mean business

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(CLICK) Today there are:

  • 7.2 million majority-owned, privately-held, women-owned businesses in the United States,

  • Employing 9.2 million people and

  • Generating $1.9 trillion in sales

To quote that old cliché, “We’ve come a long way, Baby.” Just 20 years ago, it was legal in the United States to require a woman to have a male co-signer before receiving a business loan.

Today as we kick off National Business Women’s Week, we are provided an opportunity to honor the contributions of working women and employers who support working women and their families. It is a time to recognize and highlight he progress that women have made as business owners and entrepreneurs. (CLICK)

The concept of National Business Women’s Week originated with Emma Dot Partridge, who served as Executive Secretary of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs from 1924 to 1927. The first observance of National Business Women’s Week was April 15-22, 1928 and it was launched with a radio address by Lena Madesin Phillips, the president of BPW/USA. (CLICK) In her speech, which was broadcast nationally, she stated that National Business Women’s Week was created “to focus public attention upon a better business woman for a better business world.” (CLICK)

The program for the first observance of NBWW included: Legislative Day devoted to national, state and local legislation of interest to women; Education Day devoted to emphasizing the need for equitable educational opportunities; Club Rally Day for prospective new members; Community Day honoring leaders in the community; and Goodwill Day devoted to working with other women’s organizations. (CLICK)

President Herbert Hoover was the first president to issue a letter recognizing NBWW and the contributions and achievements of working women. Since 1938 National Business Women’s Week has been officially celebrated the third full week in October of each year. (CLICK)

Today working women constitute 72 million, or almost half, of the nation’s workforce. Women-owned businesses account for 30% of all U.S. businesses. Since the recent economic downturn more and more women have become their family’s source of financial stability. (CLICK)

So, as BPW members, we recognize women who have been the cornerstone of business in the United States in the past and examine how far women in business have come. Here are some of today’s most powerful women in business:

(CLICK) Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO, Kraft Foods

(CLICK) Indra Nooryi, CEO and Chairman, Pepsico

(CLICK) Patricia Woertz, Chairman, CEO and President, Archer Daniels, Midland

(CLICK) Ellen Kullman, Chairman and CEO, Dupont

(CLICK) Angela Braly, former Chairman, President and CEO, Wellpoint

(CLICK) Andrea Jung, Chairman and CEO, Avon

(CLICK) Ginni Rometty, Chairman and CEO of IBM

(CLICK) Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO, Xerox

(CLICK) Safra Catz, President and CFO, Oracle

(CLICK) Carol Meyrowirtz, CEO, TJZ (Marshall’s, Home Good, TJ Maxx)

(CLICK) Jan Fields, President McDonald’s USA

(CLICK) Maressa Mayer, Vice President, Google

(CLICK) Oprah Winfrey, CEO, chairman and creative chair, OWN; chairman, Harpo

While we salute these powerful women who have risen to prominence in some of our nation’s largest corporations, we should keep in mind that they are among the few who have made cracks in the “glass ceiling”. (CLICK) It is unknown who first used the term “glass ceiling”, but a widely read Wall Street Journal story in 1986 popularized the term. It was used even earlier by Gay Bryant in the 1984 book The Working Women Report which examined the status of women in the workplace.

The phrase “glass ceiling” is a way of describing whatever keeps women from achieving power and success equal to that of men. (CLICK) A woman can clearly see through a ceiling made of glass and see that those above her are more powerful. Instead of being able to achieve the same success, she is stopped by invisible forces that prevent her from rising further. (CLICK)

Because women found that there is a “glass ceiling”, many have chosen a different means of reaching their goals. As mentioned earlier, the number of women business owners has dramatically increased in recent years. Today women-owned businesses account for 30% of all US business. (CLICK) And so today we also celebrate the achievements of all the owners of small businesses. Among these we count many of our own members. Would all the business owners who are here today please stand. Let’s acknowledge these working women for their contributions to the workplace. (CLICK)

But it takes more than CEO’s and company presidents to run the businesses of America. National Business Women’s Week also applauds all working women—(CLICK) the secretaries, the saleswomen, the clerks and cashiers, the bus drivers, the mechanics, the software designers, the factory workers, the beauticians and all the myriad of women who contribute to the workplace and to the financial stability of their families.

Today as we kick off National Business Women’s Week, let’s take a moment to review the goal of the BPW Foundation: (CLICK) “To promote equity for all women and to help create better conditions for working women through the study and advocacy of social, educational and economic issues impacting women in the workplace.” (CLICK)

As BPW members let’s continue to encourage and promote the celebration of the achievements of all working women as they contribute daily to our economic, civic and cultural goals.

Created by Rosemary Enzer and Anne Marie Johnson for Valley Sunset District BPW 2012

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