Celebrating Women in Business
Sarah Ryther Francom
May 1, 2011
When Karma Newberry acquired Wasatch Supply in 2007, she had to prove that she could lead in a male-dominated field. For example, when one of the company’s long-time customers heard of the ownership change, he threatened to take his business elsewhere. Newberry took charge of the situation, meeting with him directly to prove she was the right person for the job. “He decided to give us a chance and has since become a great friend and ally in the industry,” she says.
Newberry, who is pictured on this issue’s cover, has since led the Salt Lake-based company to great success, increasing sales by nearly 100 percent last year—not an easy feat considering the construction industry has been greatly impacted by the economy.
Newberry’s story of triumph is just one of many in this year’s 30 Women to Watch feature. Each honored woman has accomplished much for her affiliated organization. Ranging in industries and titles, these 30 leaders are a testament of the important role that women play in Utah’s business community. Read their stories beginning on page 48.
Women’s place in business continues to grow on both the national and local fronts, and should not be overlooked. According to the American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, the number of women-owned businesses throughout the nation grew by 50 percent from 1997 to 2010, which is well above the 34 percent growth rate of small businesses. Today, there are an estimated 8.1 million women-owned businesses, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing 7.7 million Americans, according to the report.
Utah’s figures show a similar growth trend; according to the report, the revenues of women-owned businesses in Utah increased by nearly 120 percent during the 1997 to 2010 timeframe. This rate was much higher than the national average of 53 percent. The number of women-owned businesses in Utah is also increasing. According to the Salt Lake City branch of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Utah is home to more than 100,000 women-owned businesses that generate $23 billion in sales and employ nearly 220,000 people.
The Department of Workforce Services reports similar advances of women in the workplace. According to DWS, Utah women now make up approximately 44 percent of the state’s labor force, and their presence is growing at a rate of about 8 percentage points each decade.
Despite the positive figures, disconcerting trends persist. According to DWS, Utah had the fourth largest wage gap in the nation in 2008 (most recent data available). Though better than 1990 figures, in which Utah had the largest wage gap in the nation, the latest numbers still need improving. And while more women in the state are enrolling in higher education, Utah has the largest gap in the nation between male and female college graduation rates.
While there is much to celebrate regarding the advancements of women in business, Utah’s business community needs to do more to reduce the troubling achievement gaps between men and women in the workforce.
From the Editor
Sarah Ryther Francom