The month of March is National Women’s History Month, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions that women have made throughout history. While it has only been officially recognized by the U.S. government since 1987, its origin dates back much further than that.
Originally, National Women’s History Week was first celebrated in 1978 as part of International Women’s Day on March 8th. This special week was created by the Education Task Force of Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women. It was a successful event, so it quickly spread across the country and eventually became an entire month-long celebration recognizing female greatness, past and present.
Celebrating Women in Business
National Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate and honor all the inspiring women who have made an immense contribution to business. From large corporations to small businesses, female entrepreneurs are increasingly taking the lead in spearheading innovative growth and development. As we mark this special month, let’s take a look at some influential women making their mark in the business world today.
This special month is also a great opportunity to recognize women’s roles in the business world, particularly Marissa Mayer. She stands out for her incredible success as an executive in some of the most prominent technology companies in the U.S. and around the world. Women such as Marissa Mayer and Arianna Huffington are known as purveyors in the business world.
Marissa Mayer made history when she became the CEO of Yahoo! at just 37 years old, making her one of the youngest CEOs to lead a Fortune 500 company. During her time at Google, she was responsible for the development and launch of popular products used by millions around the world today, such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Google News. With her eye for innovation and talent for product development, Mayer has become one of Silicon Valley’s most influential figures.
Arianna Huffington is another business purveyor; she is an author, syndicated columnist, and entrepreneur who was born in Athens, Greece, in 1950. She moved to England at the age of 16 and attended Cambridge University, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in economics. During the 1980s, she started writing books about contemporary culture and politics which earned her a high profile as a media commentator.
In 2005, Huffington founded The Huffington Post (now known as HuffPost), one of the most successful online news sites in history. The site became known for its left-leaning views and its original reporting on politics and social justice issues.
Challenges Faced by Women
Women in business are often subject to gender-based discrimination, which takes many forms and comes from all levels. From unequal pay and fewer opportunities for career advancement to an increased likelihood of sexual harassment and difficulty accessing capital or loans, there is no denying that women face unique challenges when trying to make their mark in the business world.
It is paramount that we recognize and celebrate these female purveyors’ achievements this month—not only for their successes but also for combating these issues head-on while still pushing forward with their goals.
Jurupa Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Women-Owned Businesses
While the Jurupa Valley Chamber of Commerce (JVCC) has many women-owned businesses, we would like to highlight a couple of individuals who have shared a little bit about themselves: Anica McKesey, Insurance Broker in California & New York for Liberty Mutual and Pamela Blynn of Daisy’s BBQ and Catering, as well as Oak Quarry Commercial Cleaning.
Anica McKesey did not develop an entrepreneurial mindset until after graduating college. She saw both her parents work at honorable union jobs. Her father was a longshoreman, and her mother was an emergency room nurse her entire life; however, something about working non-stop for 50 years forced Anica to consider a better return on her college investment. She always knew she wanted to help impact lives, and insurance became the vessel to do it.
Women are inherent multi-taskers and leaders. Anica’s role as a wife, mother, and insurance broker provides skillsets applicable to every life experience; coupling intuition and logic, she values learning from all people.
Anica’s mother has always been the most inspirational woman she has ever known. Her mother was an immigrant from Belize, Central America, who came to an unknown country with the hope of a better life. Her arrival was not the commencement of her achievements, however. Anica’s mother so loved this country that she went on to serve in the military, learning that triage in combat came naturally. This skill set transferred to her professional career, where nurses in just about every hospital in Southern California benefitted from her leadership. Even in retirement, Anica’s mother continues part-time in an administrative capacity.
We asked Anica, “What is one thing that you now know about women and work that you wish you had known earlier in your career?”
“There is an unspoken, unreasonable expectation that working women must do it all and always do it well. While goal-oriented women will continue to exceed expectations, it is important to be present and value the time we have with loved ones. Whether with family, friends or simply alone, the moments we spend with loved ones are so extremely precious. We might remember the targets we crushed or the excellent annual reviews, but there is nothing more treasured than the memories created on vacation, on random family excursions, and at the dinner table.”
We then asked, “What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?”
“Talent and hard work are equally as important. Hard work is often thought of as an antiquated notion in this virtual era with exponential advances in technology. Deep work and efficiency never lose importance. If I could go back to my first working days, I would spend far more time developing my own unique talents and applying my work ethic to these specific abilities. The workforce has millions of worker-bees who function like robots, but the missing link is the individuality that each of our own special talents bring.”
Finally, we asked Anica, “How do you build a successful customer base?”
“Customers often shop by price, but they return because of the service they receive. Over the last 16 years, I have seen clients through weddings, tragic losses, divorces, cross-country moves and more. The best compliment I consistently receive is that when a client speaks to me, they feel like they are my only client. It is important to give customers the information they need to be able to make an informed decision and to treat them in the manner we would expect for ourselves. This results in not only customer loyalty, but endless referrals.”
When we asked Pamela Blynn what she would like to tell young women who are just starting to work, she said, “I would tell woman now to value their desire, input, knowledge, training, education, and passion to become more. Get a mentor; surround yourself with positive, like-minded people that empower you and follow your dreams.
Become a student and sponge to successful people within your community. Join the Chamber of Commerce, attend SBA and other business trainings. Volunteer with a Community Based organization and take time for yourself. Most importantly, it’s ok to prioritize family first, don’t feel guilty. When you balance, family, work, and volunteering, things fall into place. Money doesn’t measure your success; you measure your success!”
Then we asked, “Who inspired you to be a business owner and why?”
“My husband was my driving force to become a business owner. He believed in my talents and knew I was worth more than I was being valued. I was reluctant to give up my guaranteed paycheck and benefits for the uncertainty, but during the 2009 recession, I lost my job of 17 years and was forced to figure something out.
Time was of the essence and while businesses were downsizing and imposed hiring freezes, I jumped in with both feet and opened my business. I encouraged my husband to transition his business and go into business with me. My business became our family business. We reached out to our neighbors that were struggling and built a strong community business and lifelong friends. I believe that if you give back to the community, the community will give back to you.”
We have many women-owned businesses in the Jurupa Valley Chamber of Commerce, so visit our membership directory and pay a visit to these businesses. Let’s support women-owned businesses in the month of March and all year long!
Today, National Women’s History Month is a great opportunity for businesses to recognize women who have changed history while also empowering this generation of businesswomen through inspiring stories from the past, like those of Anica and Pamela.
As we move forward into 2023, we should recognize the importance of supporting and encouraging more women-led businesses as they strive to succeed in this ever-evolving economy. With greater access to capital and resources, these trailblazers can continue to make strides toward economic parity in their respective industries.
Please register to join us at our next Networking Meeting by clicking this link: https://t2m.io/JVCCBusMeeting
We’re here for you and your business.
“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder
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