October 1, 2012

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Women-Owned Business

Utah Business Staff

October 1, 2012

JACKETTA: Most businesses have a trade association and you definitely want to get involved in the national trade association, if you can. It’s true, you will be one of the few women there, so you will get noticed. But it will help you. And that gets back around to your local area, too.

JOHNSON: There were only two of us women the year I graduated with a master’s in engineering, and I guess I never thought about being a woman. I just thought about kicking some butt.

TURNER: I would like to see a day when women no longer have to have organizations that are strictly for women, but that we have meshed into the business community and this gender issue is a thing of the past, where we don’t have to have separate boards, separate organizations, but we are very mainstream. Then I think we have arrived.

BECK: I have never considered myself a woman in business. I am just always a person in business. If we, as women, take that approach—that we are just people in business—then the barriers are down because we are as aggressive, or we can be.

Does anyone feel that any group that was directed toward helping women in business has been an asset to them?
RICE: It was crucial for my career. But I agree with Maxine: when there’s no division, that would mean we have arrived.

TURNER: It’s an evolution, and this is a step that has to be done within that process.

RICE: But I still think statistics show we have a long ways to go. I mean, 70 cents versus a dollar?

Some organizations really give you access and exposure. It’s about networking, mentoring and access to capital. Those have made all the difference, and a crucial difference, in my career.

McCULLOUGH: As a person who has a women’s organization for women entrepreneurs, when Startup Princess was launched over five years ago, there really wasn’t a support system. Kelly was looking around for places and resources and felt like she was kind of tied in a man’s world. And there was no one there to really support and mentor her.

Now there’s lots of organizations to help women grow their businesses. So we are certainly not the only one. But we have had women come to our events and say, “I appreciate the space. It’s open, it’s less competitive.” Women are more likely to help each other, more likely to speak up. For some women, finding a place to feel comfortable to grow and develop and really feel confident in what they are doing is a benefit.

What do you think is being done to encourage women into corporate governance? Do any of you sit on boards of directors?
JOHNSON: I have been on the Zions Bank board of directors for 22 years. And it was Roy Simmons, the father of Harry Simmons, who asked me. I didn’t know anything about banking—I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life. It has been a very interesting experience, especially to watch the last 22 years. I’m also on ARUP’s board of directors and a number of others. But there aren’t enough women on boards. And boards really struggle to find them, in my opinion.

AKERS: There was a recent study related to women on corporate boards. And the study showed that companies who have women on their boards tend to do better. Especially in today’s economy, they are more risk averse, so they are trying to hold the companies back from doing things too extravagant during this economy.

Sometimes our skills as women are seen as an asset, and sometimes they are seen as a deficit. But by and large, we are more likely to pull out the right skill at the right time rather than just go straight with, “I’m always going to be competitive,” or, “I’m always going to be risk averse.” I think women have the ability to be a little bit more flexible in what works at this time.

RICE: I think women are, in general, more collaborative. When you think of multi-tasking, negotiating, problem solving—we have all that.

KADDAS: And nurturing, too. We want to understand from multiple people instead of just insisting that we have the answer.

I certainly have had women bosses who were not nurturing or collaborative. Does it ghettoize women to say men are like this and women are like that, and that’s how they act in the workplace, or do you think the descriptions are useful and true?

JOHNSON: When you open The Wall Street Journal and you see the top 100 business women in the United States and the world, those are probably women that exhibit collaborative traits. And the boss from hell that maybe you worked for probably isn’t going to be there, because that’s a limiting trait. So maybe it’s traits.

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