NAWBO Chicago was founded on advocacy. Please tell us why you think it is paramount for female business owners to lift up their voices and advocate for themselves.
Some women may wonder why they should advocate for themselves or whether doing so is even necessary. The truth is that the more women speak up and advocate for themselves, the easier it will be to achieve their goals. I grew up in Bali with a cultural mindset that women don't need to advocate for themselves. That served me alright until I chose to start my business a decade ago. I thought I could just figure it all out, that I don't necessarily need to advocate for myself, let alone let my voice be heard. But it didn't get me anywhere. The moment my mentor advised me to start reaching out to my network to speak up and ask for the help I needed, I started seeing growth – and not just growth for my professional development but also growth for my business. I will continue to advocate for myself simply because it's one of the best ways for us to achieve our goals in life and business.
RJ Lipscomb Engineering Inc.
It is imperative that female business owners use their voice as the powerful tool that it is to advocate for resources, legislation and themselves. We know the obstacles in our paths and our weak spots, and we know where we need support; asking for and getting that support makes our businesses stronger.
I made a commitment this year to advocate for myself and my business – a commitment to be more visible, to find a way to participate in legislative talks that effect small businesses, and to speak to students, particularly female students who are considering a career in the trades. I’m doing this because I understand that representation matters, and I have come to realize the power my voice holds.
No one knows our business, mission and vision like we do. We know what we need for our companies to grow and succeed. When we advocate for ourselves and our businesses, we are also advocating for our employees, our industries and those who will follow in our footsteps.
elbe creative partners
As a working professional in a variety of roles for over half my life, a business owner for nearly a decade, and mom of a young daughter, I have learned that self-advocacy is key for all areas of our respective journeys – but most importantly as a woman owning and managing a small business. Advocacy, in general, wasn’t something that came natural to me growing up. Thankfully, I’ve had the good fortune of crossing paths with exceptional individuals in my adulthood (perhaps some of you reading this now) who’ve played a critical role helping me determine the necessity in lifting my own voice for the matters I believe in – fighting for small businesses being one!
Advocacy has been powerful in the sustainability and success of our business –establishing the right partners to assist in meeting our goals, securing funding to help us grow, and establishing ourselves in an increasingly competitive tech industry, to name a few ways. I don’t take for granted the importance of aligning ourselves with the right people and organizations to help leverage our companies. I remain grateful to organizations like NAWBO that have provided me with the incredible network, platform and confidence to make my voice heard!
Gender inequality is very real and prevalent in all sectors of society, especially in the economic and political arena. Women are often disproportionately represented, missing out on being economically, socially andpolitically impactful in society. For women in business to break through societal limitations, they must advocatefor themselves in solidarity. We need high-level legislative and institutional changes that support women in business, allowing women to have equal opportunity for growth and societal influence.
Women can significantly improve the nation's overall economic growth through job creation and reduction in unemployment rates. In addition, through advocacy, we can create a more inclusive culture where women can feel supported and give a voice to the next generation of female entrepreneurs. We need more women to continue to clear the path for others and speak assertively about our values in the marketplace so morewomen can come out of their shadows and live to their fullest potential.
I strongly believe in what NAWBO represents, advocating for women in business since 1975. NAWBO has been proactively giving voices to women, advocating for legislative change and providing mentorship and networking opportunities. Collectively, we should continue to empower women to thrive in businesses, thereby increasing our independence and financial wellbeing while subsequently expanding our overall influence in society.
I believe it’s important for women in business to advocate for themselves because, unfortunately, there are still inequalities based across gender identity lines. By advocating for yourself, you ensure that others aren’t speaking for you, and that your specific (and oftentimes intersectional) needs are heard. We simply can’t expect people to know what we need – or how best to give it to us – unless we ask for it.
Studies show that women are community minded; when we advocate for ourselves, we’re advocating for our families, friends and communities at large. Another benefit to expressing your voice, and expressing it loudly, is to be an example for other women. By empowering those around us to advocate for themselves and their communities, we work towards normalizing diversity.
Societal progress does not come naturally. Progress only happens when individuals and communities seek to inspire change and use their voices to do so.