VOL. 131 | NO. 29 | Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Hardy ‘Energized’ by Women’s Business Issues
By Madeline Faber
Women in the business world touch all of Memphis’ key sectors, but even in leadership roles they still run up against doubt and discrediting from their peers.
“Women must demand to play in the big leagues,” said Carolyn Hardy, CEO of Chism Hardy Investments and Henderson Worldwide Investments.
Hardy considers herself a trailblazer for the next generation of women business leaders, but she still runs into the barriers of who-knows-who in the “good old boy network.”
“When I look at the progress, or lack thereof, for women and minorities, I get upset and then I get energized,” she said.
When she was elected chairwoman of the Greater Memphis Chamber in December, Hardy said her focus will be moving the needle for women- and minority-owned businesses. Currently, she and the chamber are working on a comprehensive plan that will bring greater mobilization to this issue in the private sector.
When Hardy delivers the keynote address at The Daily News’ Women & Business Seminar on Thursday, Feb. 25, she’ll speak about being the first woman in command at the “good old boy” table, the challenges women in business still face today and how they can use their inherent gifts to take on those challenges.
The seminar, which runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Brooks Museum of Art auditorium, 1934 Poplar Ave., also will include three panelists: Sara Burnett, public relations manager for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital; Stacy McCall, president and CEO of ServiceMaster by Stratos; and Sarah Petschonek, founder and director of Volunteer Odyssey.
“You have to be your own biggest advocate. A lot of times people tend to believe that if we keep our nose to the grindstone that amazing opportunities with present themselves,” said Petschonek.
“I’ve learned you have to be very proactive in doing that. You have to be out there generating your own leads, tracking down opportunities and making it happen.”
Burnett said that the biggest challenge in her position is balancing work, family and outside activities.
“It is hard to do all things well all the time,” she added. “And we don’t take care of ourselves as well as we should because we have so much on our plates.”
“There’s been a lot of personal sacrifice,” Hardy said. “As a woman and a mother, you’re expected to give 200 percent.”
In addition to trying to find the golden family/work balance, McCall said that what others view as women-inherent weaknesses are actually her strengths.
“If I’m passionate, someone could say I’m not thinking clearly. I am always thinking clearly. I have to multitask all day,” she said.
Hardy said that while men still control the glass ceiling, women have control over walking into a room with self-confidence and the courage to attack an opportunity.
“You and me? We own that,” she said. “Shrug off the shawl of inferiority and self-doubt and let it be known: If you want to win against me, I suggest you bring your ‘A game.’”
To register for the Feb. 25 seminar, call Leah Sansing at 901-528-8122 or visit http://bit.ly/MEMwomen2016.