A Conference Call for Women in Business Leadership

September 2014

Photo of "Auntie" Anne Beiler and conference attendees courtesy of the Center for Women's Enterprise

Photo of “Auntie” Anne Beiler and conference attendees courtesy of Mae Gammino Photography

With Twirling Tiger Media’s recent status as a certified Women’s Business Enterprise awarded by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and my pass to last Friday’s Women’s Business Leaders Conference in Framingham, MA, I set off to meet my ‘sisters.’

I have attended many conferences as a professional, but to my surprise, this one was truly different. I was surrounded by women of all ages—individuals that have not only found their seat at the table, but who are yanking out chairs for other women to edge their way in. The women in attendance either had their own powerful ideas for products with solid plans to bring them to market, currently owned a business, or were interested in starting one.

A September 2013 Harvard Business Review article, “Women in the Workplace: A Research Roundup,” states that men typically get the plum assignments in the workplace. The article points to survey results*, which reveal on average that men’s projects had budgets twice as big, and involving three times as many staffers as the women’s projects. The survey also cited that men reported a great deal of attention from the C-suite, while only about a quarter of the women could say the same.

At the conference, one thing was certain—the women in attendance had given themselves the plum assignments in the workplace. There was no gatekeeper in their path to bigger budgets, bigger staff, and attention from the C-suite. And let’s not overlook the power and results of unfettered creativity.

At the conference, I listened to keynote speakers “Auntie” Anne Beiler of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels (wow…what a professional and personal story Ms. Beiler had to tell!), and Wendy Capland of Vision Quest Consulting. I also heard the professional and personal stories (it’s usually not possible for women to divorce these two aspects of their lives) of so many other women entrepreneurs. A common driver for many of these women was finding a passion for what they were drawn to. Many then reported pouring their heart and soul into the work, ultimately finding happiness in their businesses. These words—passion, heart and soul, and happiness—are not typically associated with the workplace, but that workplace may not have been truly inclusive of the burgeoning sisterhood out there.

There was a great buzz for the potential of community and collaboration among the attendees. It was almost inescapable—connections were even made in the Ladies Room as women exchanged information about their businesses, ideas on how they could help one another, and finally business cards to keep the conversation…and business…going.

Twirling Tiger Media was invited to matchmaking sessions with Boston Scientific, Grinnell/Tyco/Simplex, Mohegan Sun and United Rentals. These are companies that proactively reach out and include a broad range of people, ideas, products and services through their Supplier Diversity Programs. The Twirling Tigers are also continuing conversations with many other sisterhood companies in attendance.

—Maureen Joyce

* Source: “Good Intentions, Imperfect Execution? Women Get Fewer of the ‘Hot Jobs’ Needed to Advance,” by Christine Silva, Nancy M. Carter, and Anna Beninger, Catalyst, 2012.