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VOL. 129 | NO. 36 | Friday, February 21, 2014

Seminar to Focus on Importance of Women in Business

By Don Wade

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When Amy Howell delivers the keynote address at the Women & Business Seminar Feb. 27 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, she will, rather appropriately, be speaking about the art of appreciating what women can bring to any business setting.

HOWELL

“Just because you’re in a man’s world … women have unique strengths,” said Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies. “The gender balance that we achieve in the workforce is greatly enhanced by women at the table.

“Smart men know that,” said Howell, who with co-author Anne Deeter Gallaher, has written “Women in High Gear: A Guide for Entrepreneurs, On-Rampers, and Aspiring Executives.”

“Women bring a unique perspective,” Howell continued. “Women see things that men don’t see. It’s just basic differences. But those differences, when played well, actually are beneficial for any business.”

One of Howell’s clients is Johnson Controls, a global diversified technology company in the building and automotive industries. She says they have made a point to bring women to the table.

“They have recognized the importance of women and those women are engineers and are highly trained and skilled,” Howell said. “They have a lot of women in very high-level places all across the country.”

The 2014 Seminar Series is presented by The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. The Women & Business Seminar will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 27. To register, go to seminars.memphisdailynews.com. A wine-and-cheese reception will follow the event.

Other panelists include: Robbin Hutton, of counsel in the Memphis office of Jackson Lewis PC; Linda Lauer, managing director of CBIZ MHM LLC; and Leslie Johnson, assistant director of Hutchison Leads at the Hutchison School.

Women have been able to reach the highest corporate peaks, including Mary Barra becoming CEO of General Motors, Margaret Whitman at Hewlett-Packard and Ursula Burns at Xerox.

“Very inspiring,” Johnson said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about their minds,” said Leigh Shockey, CEO of Drexel Chemical Co. and chair of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Still, only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.

And whether a woman is trying to scale a Fortune 500 ladder to its very top, or simply trying to get that next promotion, some of the same principles and strategies might apply.

Also, some of the same obstacles. For example, there is the theory – stereotype, really – that women don’t want other women to succeed. It can be true in some instances, but it is not a prevailing truth, Howell said.

“We talk about that in the book, queen bees that don’t want any other women to succeed,” Howell said. “Sometimes, we’ve earned that reputation. But (most) women want to help.”

Howell believes strongly that a woman can have a career and a family, too. She has done it. She is married with two children.

Asked if that means there has to be “two Amys,” she said: “You have to wear different hats when you have different tasks in front of you. And you have to evaluate your environment. Women are good at sensing, ‘Do I need to be quiet and listen or do I need to speak up?’”

Howell is hopeful that, going forward, companies will be more willing to work with career women who are also moms.

“We need to create greater awareness at the corporate level, nationally and locally, about the importance of elevating women in the work force and looking for creative ways to offer them flexibility and balance,” she said.

Howell added: “Profitability and success have no gender. Smart women know that. Smart men know that, too.”

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