March 2015: Business Tech Bytes

Recognize the women around you

Columnist Jill Van Hoesen

Columnist Jill Van Hoesen

Today’s business world is very different from 50 or even 25 years ago. Advancing technology and evolving work and family roles of women have contributed to the modern business environment. The expanded role of the working woman has caused changes in many different aspects of life. According to a study by White & Rogers, “women constitute approximately 47 percent of the total labor force with most women remaining in the workforce for at least 30 years.”

“Today’s typical American family is a dual-income family with women now employed in previously male-dominated fields such as information technology, law, professional sports, the military, law enforcement, firefighting and top-level corporate positions,” the study continued. “Working women today spend less time maintaining the household then they did 30 years ago, but still face some of the same struggles of equal pay, child and elder care benefits, job security, safe workplaces, affordable health care, contraceptive equity, protection from sexual harassment and violence at work.”

It would be a great mistake to not recognize the strength and inspiration of the women around you each day. The impact of women’s history on your life might seem inconsequential to some, but in the long run the results have been remarkable, from greater achievement by girls in local schools to less violence against women, and more stable and cooperative communities. The remarkable women who work alongside you each day are part of our collective story and recognizing the dignity and achievements of these women instills greater self-esteem and respect among all of us. Accomplishments of these women play a fundamental role in not only their own lives, but also in the lives of others.

Though it may not be its original intent, the 11th Annual Business of Women Networking Conference has strong ties to the 2015 National Women’s History Month’s theme: “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.”

The networking conference struck to the heart of the theme with the achievements celebrated, challenges shared, and stereotypes upended. The power of hearing many stories of local women gave attendees inspiration to succeed through sacrifices and commitments that inspire today’s generations while opening doors to the future.

This year’s conference theme “Working Together to Make a Difference” says it all. This annual conference is a logical extension of the New York State Small Business Development Center’s networking group. This group, co-founded in 2003 by Jennifer Huttemann-Kall and Sarah O’Connell, who are still part of the “Fabulous Lead Team” are responsible for this yearly event.

Ms. Huttemann-Kall kicked off this year’s speaker series with the informational presentation titled “Why Partnering with a Nonprofit and Volunteering is Great for your Small Business.” She covered everything from marketing advantages to self-assessments of how you can help nonprofits. Participants walked away understanding why their volunteerism will indeed help their businesses.

“With today’s audience almost equally split between for-profits and nonprofits, marketing was one of the most requested topics,” Ms. Huttemann-Kall said.

As I mingled among this year’s attendees I was interested in the technology that drives this mostly female self-employed business owner group. Overwhelmingly it was Facebook, with many echoing that businesses “must have a Facebook page.” Most were ready with their laptops for hands-on setup on their own business Facebook page during a session led by Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce marketing director Sara Carpenter.

This year is the 35th anniversary of the Women’s History Movement and the National Women’s History Project. Not only during March, which is recognized as National Women’s History Month, but throughout 2015, stop and take a moment to recognize and acknowledge the many ways that women’s history has become woven into the fabric of not only our local story but our national story as well.

Jill Van Hoesen is chief information officer for Johnson Newspapers and a 25-year IT veteran. Contact her at jvanhoesen@wdt.net. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.