As the world celebrates Women’s History Month, ASI’s Diversity and Inclusion Council asked female leaders in the promo industry and at ASI what this yearly observance means to them.
Counselor’s 2016 Supplier Woman of Distinction
This month, I reflect on the strides women have made and it makes me happy and proud to think about how much progress has happened in my lifetime. But the month also serves as a reminder of how much work still needs to be done to level the playing field for women. True representation — when women aren’t just being used to reach diversity goals in a corporation, but actually have a voice and a say in the decision-making process — is the ultimate goal. It’s the only way to achieve a more equitable and inclusive future. At Redwood Classics, we’ve been working hard on achieving this ourselves; in our recent Impact Report that takes a close look at the progress we’ve made on our sustainability and diversity goals, we’re proud to report that 69% of our procurement spend is with women- and minority-owned businesses.
“True representation — when women aren’t just being used to reach diversity goals in a corporation, but actually have a voice and a say in the decision-making process — is the ultimate goal. It’s the only way to achieve a more equitable and inclusive future.”
Kathy Cheng, Redwood Classics Apparel
The advice I often give to other woman entrepreneurs and leaders is not to be afraid of failure. It’s simply a lesson and a redirection. It’s also our responsibility to shoulder up and bring others along with us in order to continue to build a pipeline of future female leaders. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 reveals that gender parity will not be attained for another 99.5 years, so we must rely on each other to get there. I hope someday, we’ll no longer need to have conversations about inequality, but until then, keep lifting women up, mentoring and teaching.
Womxn’s Empowerment Event committee member and Counselor’s 2020 Woman of Distinction
Women’s History Month encourages awareness of all women around the world. As we continue to help lift each other up, we need to recognize that we all achieve at different levels and create our own milestones and accomplishments along the way. No idea is too small and no task is too large! This month, every woman’s voice should be heard. Collectively, we can all make this a better world for every woman.
“Be brave and accountable for your commitments and decisions. Collaborate with likeminded individuals who share your dedication to equality and inclusion.”
Carol de Ville, The Branding Company
I’d like to say to women that failure is not a step backwards, but rather the opportunity to become more grounded while moving forward more effectively and stronger. Be brave and accountable for your commitments and decisions. Collaborate with likeminded individuals who share your dedication to equality and inclusion. Embrace change, grow with others and move forward as a team. Surround yourself with the best; you will find them and they will find you.
Counselor’s 2020 Person of the Year
Years ago when I first learned about Women’s History Month, I didn’t really understand the “why.” Then I started reading. As much as I dedicate my time to women’s leadership in the industry and through the Olympia Snowe Institute, I truly didn’t understand the pioneers who paved the way for the benefit of all.
The first giant I met in person who had a lifelong impact on me was the diminutive Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Maine. Her 15-minute “Declaration of Conscience” in 1950 before the U.S. Senate pitted her against Senator Joseph McCarthy and the prevailing political majority. I was 15 years old when I met her. Many years later, I met her again and thanked her for her leadership and influence in my life.
“Honor our past and invent our future. Learn, appreciate and be inspired by the history of our mothers and sisters. Take time to understand inner strength, perseverance, self-motivation and commitment to education. Find a coach, invest in your growth and lean on each other.”
Jo-an Lantz, Geiger
I continue to learn about female leaders. The impact and legacy of women like Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson and Mary McLeod Bethune need to be known, and Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to do so. We shouldn’t forget the road that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor or Sheryl Sandberg have traveled. They’ve all left an indelible mark on our lives.
My advice to other women is to honor our past and invent our future. Learn, appreciate and be inspired by the history of our mothers and sisters. Take time to understand the inner strength, perseverance, self-motivation and commitment to education. Find a coach, invest in your growth and lean on each other.
Counselor’s 2017 Distributor Woman of Distinction
It’s an honor to be able to celebrate Women’s History Month and to thank those who have cleared the path for women like me so we have the opportunity to break the glass ceiling. It’s important for my daughter to see that her achievements and contributions to society can be a change agent for generations to come.
“It’s important for my daughter to see that her achievements and contributions to society can be a change agent for generations to come.”
Shamini Peter, Axis Promotions Powered by HALO
I’d like to say to other women: Don’t doubt what you’re capable of. Acknowledge the challenges and roadblocks that will be thrown at you, but continue to push forward with confidence that you have the mind, intelligence and tenacity to make a change.
35 years with ASI
Women’s History Month reminds me of the incredible achievements made by women in my lifetime. When I was growing up, women who wanted careers in business or science weren’t supported. One of my first jobs was working as the receptionist at automotive and aerospace firm TRW for the Personnel Manager. My supervisor strongly encouraged me to return to college and study labor relations; the HR major didn’t exist yet. She also mentored me and gave me experience in many different employee situations. I learned a lot and she inspired me to keep learning and practicing.
“My mother once told me, ‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.’ That meant a lot to me over the years and it’s important to me to support other women and their career journeys.”
Carol Albright, ASI
Women’s History Month reminds me of strong women who focus on growing and breaking barriers. My mother once told me, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.” That meant a lot to me over the years and it’s important to me to support other women and their career journeys. I’m very blessed to have grown with ASI and encourage the women I work with and support to grow as well.
My advice to women is to get educated and use the resources available to you. I took advantage of the tuition programs at TRW and ASI to complete my degrees. Also, it’s ok to be kind and respectful but tough. And don’t let other people determine your destiny. Set your own goals and achieve them.
24 years with ASI
I was lucky enough to have had both a feminist mom and feminist grandmother, so I was raised on stories of the women who shaped our history and kept pushing the boundaries to give us the rights we have today, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and Shirley Chisholm. When I was little, my mom would wear T-shirts that said, “Uppity Women Unite” and “A Woman’s Place is in the House… And the Senate,” and gave me a subscription to Ms. Magazine when I was 14. Unsurprisingly, I had a very sturdy foundation of the strength, value and resilience of women. Women’s History Month honors those who’ve come before us, paving the way and making it easier for the next generation of women, and the younger generations, who will continue to push towards the goalpost of equal pay for equal work (something lacking in many professions and at many companies) and an Equal Rights Amendment. Because of the women who came before, and for all the rights and freedoms – tenuous though they may be – we have because of them, Women’s History Month is their tribute.
“Always follow your gut and your instincts, and never let anyone – and I don’t care who that is – try to make you be something they want, rather than what you want.”
Michele Bell, ASI
Some people – men and women, by the way – are still unsettled by the thought of strong, confident women, especially in positions of authority. And almost instinctively, they will try to push and pull you to fit their mold of what a female leader should be: quieter, more sedate, less “emotional,” not as “dramatic.” My response to that every day of the week is to tell them to go pound sand. Always follow your gut and your instincts, and never let anyone – and I don’t care who that is – try to make you be something they want, rather than what you want. The only person you’re accountable to is that voice in your head, telling you that you’re supremely capable and you’ve got this. Everyone else can take a seat and pipe down.
29 years with ASI
Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women and their accomplishments. It’s an opportunity to learn about women’s achievements in a variety of fields, whether they worked as Civil War nurses, fought for the right to vote, or made their mark as icons in the music, arts and corporate industries.
“Be honest and encouraging, and always continue to learn.”
Alice Kraus, ASI
I would tell ambitious women to raise the bar in whatever they do and create opportunities for themselves and other future female leaders. Be honest and encouraging, and always continue to learn.
30 years with ASI
“Be bold and proactively manage your own career. Don’t wait to be seen; present yourself and dare to be different.”
Chris Lovell, ASI
This is a time set aside to think about and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women in history. I would say to women: Keep challenging yourself. Be bold and proactively manage your own career. Don’t wait to be seen; present yourself and dare to be different. Also, listening is the most critical business skill of all and in my opinion that’s the difference between great and not-so-great female leaders.
ASI’s Diversity and Inclusion Council also chose female historical figures to highlight for their service to the public and strides made for all women.
“As a representative of the young, let me be viewed as one of a new generation of leaders unshackled by the constraints and irrational hatreds of the past. As a representative of women, let my message be: ‘Yes, you can.’ … [W]hen you believe, then there is no mountain high enough to scale.”
The late Benazir Bhutto served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990, and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman to lead a democratic government in a Muslim majority country, and led the center-left, secular Pakistan Peoples Party from the early 1980s until her death. Bhutto was assassinated in Pakistan in December 2007 for her progressive beliefs; the shooting and subsequent bomb blast, for which Al-Qaeda claimed credit, killed 22 other people.
“I felt like it was necessary to be seen and to not be a hidden figure, so to speak. I felt that it was important to do that because [of] the level of visibility [for] younger scientists and also people of color who have often worked behind the scenes and essentially [who have] done the dirty work for these large efforts toward a vaccine.”
Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett
Dr. Corbett is the 35-year-old scientific lead for the coronavirus team at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH. She earned her doctorate in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. NIH director Dr. Anthony Fauci said recently that “her work will have a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory disease pandemic in more than 100 years.” Dr. Corbett also works to bring STEM awareness to underserved communities through volunteering and mentoring.
“My mother would look at me and say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.’ That’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us.”
Kamala Harris is the first female, African-American and Asian-American vice president of the United States, as well as the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history. She’s also a former district attorney of San Francisco, and a former attorney general of and senator from California. She was the second African-American and first South Asian-American to serve in the U.S. Senate. In her time in California, Harris advocated for reform in the fields of criminal justice, healthcare, taxes and immigration.
“Be your own artist, and always be confident in what you’re doing. If you’re not going to be confident, you might as well not be doing it.”
Born in Memphis, the late Aretha Franklin, “Queen of Soul,” was a pioneer in the music industry beginning in the 1960s. She’s best known for songs like “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and the feminist and civil rights anthem “Respect.” She had numerous number-one singles during her career, and became one of history’s most successful musical artists ever, with 75 million records sold around the world. Franklin also won multiple awards, including the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and named one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. Franklin passed away in 2018 at 76.
“For both men and women the first step in getting power is to become visible to others, and then to put on an impressive show. … As women achieve power, the barriers will fall. As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we’ll all be better off for it.”
Sandra Day O’Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female associate justice on the Supreme Court, a position she held from 1981, when she was appointed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, to her retirement in 2006. Before her time on the Court, she was a judge in Arizona and the first female majority leader of a state senate. In 2009, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.