Empowering People Is the True Clarion Call of Women’s History Month

By Michelle Lanter Smith

Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are important perennial reminders of how much progress women have made in the workforce and the amazing accomplishments we see from celebs as well as everyday women. 

There are amazing women who are literally changing the world every day with their leadership whether it’s Mary Barra or Indra Nooyi in the business world or even women like Serena Williams and Dolly Parton in the worlds of sports and entertainment. 

When a private equity firm acquired womenswear company Spanx for $1.2 billion in 2021, Sara Blakely, the company’s CEO, said in a statement, “This is a really important moment in time for female entrepreneurs.” 

And she’s right. Women entrepreneurs are changing the business landscape each and every day.

But women have been changing the world for many years as we’ve seen with Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and so many more throughout history.

Still, there are millions of women whose name you won’t find on a marquee who are making a huge impact, too. These are the women who come to work everyday and make a difference. Some play dual roles as moms, too, but the idea that women can’t have it all has gone the way of the dinosaurs, especially with the influx of flexible, hybrid work opportunities that blossomed during the pandemic.

By the Numbers

Did you know that a McKinsey study found that just 36% of women make up senior manager/director roles in organizations across the country, and the numbers drop even more at the vice president level and above. For entry-level and manager positions, the percentage of women is 48% and 41%, respectively, according to the research, but Vensure Employer Solutions’ organizational structure tells a much different story.

  • 55% of the leadership team is composed of women.
  • 51% of the total employee population is made up of women.

While there’s clearly still room for improvement in finally shattering that glass ceiling, women have come a long way in the workforce. Women are more likely to hold a college degree, and, as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports, “Businesses with a higher proportion of women in leadership are more likely to report enhanced creativity and improved productivity.”

Paving the way for the next generation of women leaders is essential in the 21st century and beyond, but even more important than that is an overall focus on diversity. I firmly believe that diverse talent is what helps organizations thrive, and it takes different perspectives to achieve true innovation. 

Supporting the Roles

As I’ve said in the past, it’s important for women to challenge themselves to become leaders in their organizations and support each other along their journeys. But that doesn’t mean men shouldn’t do the same. Your background doesn’t define how well you can do a job—the things you do today like hard work, determination, skills and how you elevate your co-workers through mentoring and/or collaboration does.

Today, it’s no longer about making a business case for opportunity in the workplace, it’s the only way to do business. 

Employees are watching, consumers are watching, companies you do business with are watching and, as word of mouth spreads near-instantaneously by means of a social post, the world is watching, too.

Am I feeling inspired during Women’s History Month? Of course I am, but I also feel inspired every day I open my laptop. 

We are building the workforce of tomorrow at Venture Employer Solutions, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that and to help mentor people regardless of gender.

Finally, while Eleanor Roosevelt may or may not have said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” the guidance is spot on. We can empower ourselves just as much as we want others to empower us or others want us to empower them. That’s the true clarion call behind Women’s History Month, and it’s advice we can all get behind any month of the year.

Michelle Lanter Smith
Chief Marketing Officer

Michelle Lanter Smith is chief marketing officer for Vensure Employer Solutions, which includes the PrismHR, VensureHR and Solvo brands.

Michelle graduated summa cum laude from Marquette University where she earned her B.S. in Business Administration and holds an M.B.A. with distinction from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Michelle has received the Influential Women in Business Award from NAWBO, Top 100 Under 50 recognition from Diversity MBA Magazine, and 300+ Women in HR Technology Worth Watching from Recruiting Daily. Recently, she was awarded the 10 Leading Businesswomen Moving Beyond Excellence award by Beyond Exclamation, a media company that recognizes outstanding leadership.