By Liz Richards
I’ll let you in on a secret. When MHEDA first contemplated starting a Women in Industry initiative, I was against it. A number of years ago, an association colleague (male) contacted me to ask my opinion about whether or not I would join a “Women’s” industry group and I immediately said no. I told him I would not want to be singled out for being female and wanted to be perceived on equal footing, as a businessperson like any of my male counterparts and not considered “different” because of my gender.
Then something interesting happened. We hosted an Emerging Leaders Conference and close to half of the audience were young females. One of the speakers at the conference finished her presentation and a line of women approached her with specific questions about personal growth in a male dominated industry. The speaker contacted me after the conference and suggested we consider providing a professional development forum for women in the material handling industry. Color me wrong! I did call my association friend and admitted I may have been too hasty with my negative response.
In November 2018, we hosted the 2nd Annual Women in Industry conference titled, “Passport to PowHer.” Nearly 120 women attended the conference and in 2017 we welcomed 99 attendees. The objectives of the women’s initiative are this: to share tools for personal and professional growth, to provide a forum for women to network and learn from each other and to attract more women to the material handling and supply chain industry.
This year’s conference was headlined by Tami Evans who brought the house down with her enthusiasm, interactivity and solid takeaways. The closing speaker, Sarah Moshman provided a powerful bookend to the conference. An Emmy Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker, Sarah modestly shared her background and provided clips to some of her films including The Empowerment Project, a documentary about “ordinary women doing extraordinary things” in traditional male dominated roles. Sarah ended her presentation with a background story on how she produced her film titled, Losing Sight of Shore, currently streaming online. I highly recommend watching this documentary about four women who rowed in a four-person row boat across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, CA to Australia, a feat never accomplished before by men or women. Their motivation was to raise money for breast cancer research after a friend had passed away. Sarah’s story about her leap of faith to provide these women with her life savings worth of film equipment was incredibly inspiring.
As we have been doing with all of our MHEDA events, we provided an opportunity for the Women in Industry attendees to “give back” by working with two different organizations, The Birthday Party Project (https://www.thebirthdaypartyproject.org/) and Open Books (https://www.open-books.org/). The Birthday Party Project provides goodie bags for youth who are in the foster care system and Open Books provides books and literacy experiences for thousands of children each year. MHEDA is thrilled to be able to work with so many worthy charities and grateful to the many members who join us on this journey. Be sure to read the “Meet the Board and MBOA” feature to learn about how your MHEDA leadership is giving back in their own organizations and the positive impact it has on their communities and their teams. Do you have a give back story to tell? Please let us know and we’ll feature it on the MHEDA website.
All of us at MHEDA wish you much success in the coming year and as always, we are here to serve you. Please reach out to us anytime and thank you for your support and involvement!