Another great National Association of Women Business Owner’s (NAWBO) National conference!

May I mention, even better, this year it was held in our own backyard. Having grown up in Indianapolis, I was eager for NAWBO-Indy to share our gem of a city with the other 59 NAWBO chapters traveling from across the nation. The excitement built as over 500 dynamic women came together, attending workshops gleaning valuable information to take their business to the next level. They visited a wide array of exhibitors and listened to amazing speakers share their pearls of wisdom. If only for a few days, one was able escape the day-to-day pressure of owning a business and revel in the camaraderie of being in the presence of those that share a kindred spirit like no other – the entrepreneur.

So, you might ask what is at the heart of NAWBO – what is the vision and mission of an organization that has the distinction of not only celebrating more than 35 years in existence, but surviving in a difficult economic climate to become a strong voice for more than 10 million women-owned businesses across the country!

Simply stated on the website NAWBO propels women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide by:

  • Strengthening the wealth creating capacity of our members and promoting economic development within the entrepreneurial community
  • Creating innovative and effective change in the business culture
  • Building strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations
  • Transforming public policy and influencing opinion makers

Through much progress, many milestones have taken place since that pivotal discussion held by a group of women sitting around a kitchen table in 1975. The Women’s Business Ownership Act, H.R. 5050, was passed in 1988 with the help of NAWBO to address the needs of women in business. With the passing and signature of this legislation by President Reagan, regardless of your politics, the course of history was changed. One of the key factors being H.R. 5050 eliminated all individual state laws that required women to have a male relative sign a business loan. In addition, countless women now serve in leadership positions from government to the corporate board room to major corporations.  Indeed, there is still much work to be done toward resolving problems such as pay disparities (Pew Report Center estimated 16 cents on the dollar), women on corporate boards (Catalyst states 16.9% for the US) and the shortage of venture capital for women-owned companies.

Where am I going with this? Thus far, I have overlooked a key ingredient leading to positive changes for women and that is the countless contributions by men. This includes the past, present and moving toward the future.

The NAWBO conference was an excellent demonstration of men making a difference from booth participation (netlogx team included), workshop presentation, event attendance and financial support. There are also those contributions that may not be as visible yet equally as impactful. Bringing it closer to home, there were men like my father, who encouraged me every day to do my best, measure others by their character, and to never rely on anyone – except perhaps him. My intern job, having the  Affirmative Action and Grievance Officer take the time, likely violating a few policies, to have me join him by attending third step union grievance procedures and hearings, in the hopes of better preparing me for the real world. Today, Audrey and Nick, CEO and COO of netlogx, respectively, committed to diversity and passionate about making a difference by weaving core values such as diversity and integrity into the fabric of their company landscape. netlogx is truly Diverse by Design.

In my opinion, these men and women provide a platform for role models by sharing their time, views and inspiring others to act. Change comes from diverse sources and we all have the power to make a difference.