Today is National American Business Women’s Day!
The date marks the formation of the American Business Women’s Association on September 22, 1949. The holiday itself was first recognized in 1983. Since the association’s mission encourages businesswomen to support and recognize one another, we’d like to take a moment to look at the journey women in business have taken in America.
Before women were able to enter the traditional workforce, they found alternative paths to make a difference. Jane Addams in the late 1800s and early 1900s pioneered the idea of settlement houses with her Hull House, a beacon of community for those disenfranchised. Because of her non-profit business-style approach, Jane became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Price.
Throughout history, women revolutionized industries previously tailored to them as simply consumers, such as fashion and beauty. Coco Chanel, in the early 20th century, became the first designer to create fashion-centric clothing with jersey material and later, with the launch of Chanel No. 5, became the first to cross from the fashion industry into fragrance. In the mid-century, Estee Lauder founded her own beauty company and revolutionized marketing with the still-used “gift with purchase” deal. A modern day example, Oprah Winfrey built a media empire and international reputation.
Today, women are transforming previously exclusively male industries like finance, healthcare, and technology. However, challenges remain, as indicated by the mere 4% that is female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list this year.
To celebrate those female CEOs that are transforming the Fortune 500, let’s take a quick look at the competitors, market drivers, and regions that are spiking around these top Fortune 500 female CEOs, as detected by FirstRain’s Spiking Topics.
Fortune Global 500 #20 – Mary T. Barra, General Motors. Celebrate with @mtbarra
Fortune Global 500 #82– Virginia M. Rometty, IBM. Celebrate with @GinniRometty
Fortune Global 500 #127 – Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo. Celebrate with @IndraNooyi
Here at FirstRain, we are proud of our history of female executives. Our current CEO is YY Lee, who has two decades of experience in leading technology startups and global businesses. Penny Herscher, our former CEO and now executive chairman frequently discusses women and technology both in her speaking and on her blog. Our Managing Director, Aparna Gupta has played a variety of technical leadership roles spanning software engineering, content R&D, and product. These notable women, alongside many others, have helped shape companies like FirstRain, IBM, GM, and Pepsico to become leaders in gender equality in the workplace.
Now, that’s something worth celebrating.
Check out this historical timeline of entrepreneurial women in America made in partnership with Microsoft.
For decades, IT has been dominated by males, with women technocrats having limited access to boardrooms. However, this trend is changing drastically as women enter strategic positions across the industry. The increasing participation of women in the tech industry and their growing influence is commendable. Still, there is a lot work to do before we see ‘real’ gender equality in the technology sector.
ABI is doing the work! They are empowering women on technology, entrepreneurship, career development, leadership, and advancing gender diversity in the workforce.
GHC/1 was recently held in Delhi and the experience was quite motivating. The conference had approximately 485 women in attendance, crossing technological roles to non-technological roles and ranging from professionals to students to aspiring entrepreneurs. The center of discussions was technology, entrepreneurship, and achieving a gender-diverse technology workforce.
One of the most intriguing discussions was “Digital Revolution – How the customer is embracing the technology.” The panelists were Deep Kalra (Chairman, Makemytrip), Harmeen Mehta (Global CIO, Bharti Airtel), Sanjay Rishi (President, American Express S.Asia) and Shikha Rai (VP, Canon India), all experts in their domain. Discussion included how panelists are transforming themselves alongside the revolution in technology.
The discussion revealed how customers are the primary force behind the shift to digital transformation. In light of the fact that most people use social networks and digital interactive tools in their daily life, it’s reasonable for businesses to undertake digital transformation. Every business now runs on our smartphones. Companies are becoming more and more user and app-friendly to capture customers’ attentions. The role of social media also cannot be ignored. Tweets go viral in no time so target companies must acknowledge and, sometimes, take corrective measures for their reputation.
The session gave way to a Fireside Chat with Rentala Shekhar, Chairman of NASSCOM, who emphasized supporting a flexible culture for women starting families.
There was also a discussion by Bharathram Thothadri (Chief Credit Officer, American Express and Managing Director, RIM India) on “Big Data and the rise of Fintech.” Fintech, or Financial Technology, encompasses a wide of companies using software to provide financial services. The major examples in this field are companies like Paytm and PolicyBazar.com. It’s interesting to see how such complex things as deciding on fund investment or taking a policy have become user friendly with big data and technology.
On the innovation side, we had Meetul Patel (General Manager of Marketing and Operations, Microsoft, India). He made us realize how unaware we are of women inventors. Watch the discussion’s video here. The names that first come to our minds are mostly male. We hardly know of any female inventions. Does that mean women have not invented yet? No! You will be surprised when you Google to see the list of incredible inventions we (women) have done.
Another session of interest was “Role of Innovation in Entrepreneurship.” Aparna Gupta (Managing Director, FirstRain India) was the discussion moderator. To hear more of her thoughts, read her recent interview on business intelligence in a world of mergers and acquisitions, posted on CIO. On the panel were four women, all innovators, who spoke about how an innovation can change one’s life and the live
s of those around them. One such innovation, and a crowd favorite, was from Anusheela Saha. Saha designed solar powered school bags for children in poverty, so they can study at night. The bag has solar panels attached to the front flap and LED lights on the reverse. The bags are charged as children walk to school and throughout the school day.
My take away from this experience is that women should go for it with their business ideas. It’s ok to fail at first. But if you do not try, you will never learn!
The event was concluded by a workshop by the founder of Storywallahs.com, Mr. Ameen Haque. The “Art of corporate story telling” session explained that one should weave an honest story about yourself and your work if you want to be remembered for long. What do you remember most –math classes or stories from your grandparents?
Overall it was a splendid networking event where women got to meet and be motivated by the life stories of domain experts. I met with Dr. Vibha Tripathi (Founder of Swajal) and Mr. Ameen Haque in between the tea breaks and was fascinated by how modest, yet intelligent, they were in their respective domains. Looking forward to next year’s session!
Mehgna Puri, Senior Analyst, Customer Success
Chitra Singh, HR Manager
There are only 25 days until Dreamforce 2016! Recently on their blog, Salesforce pointed out how to make the most of your airplane hours on the way to Dreamforce. This inspired the FirstRain team to optimize other often-wasted moments of time that are part of the full Dreamforce experience – time spent digging for information and time spent commuting from hotel to event, event to hotel. Luckily, we found a optimization with hotel service, Perch.
We were first introduced to Perch through the Women in Tech Salesforce User Group as FirstRain has been participating in “Girly Geeks” events for over the past four years. Later, FirstRain and Perch realized that, when united, they could help you get the most out of your Dreamforce experience. The shared advantages of using FirstRain and Perch can easily been visualized in this infographic.
Networking is, at its core, socializing (perhaps with a drink in hand or via escalator rides up and down Moscone). There is no doubt, that at Dreamforce, you will have the opportunity to meet inspiring and knowledgeable individuals. Rather than waste time desperately researching to keep up, FirstRain can give you instant updates on market and industry topics around the world. Impress your peers with smart insights around the companies and industries they work in so you can spend more time connecting and less time looking down at pages of irrelevant search results.
Since we are both committed to your success at Dreamforce, every Dreamforce attendee booking their stay through Perch will receive complementary access to FirstRain through October.
Don’t forget to set up FirstRain on your mobile phone for on-the-go access throughout the conference.