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Mississippi women earn recognition

As I See It

With this issue, we are launching our annual recognition program Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women. We initiated this program three years ago, and it has seen tremendous success and popularity. A panel of independent judges will review the nominations and selects the winners. On Sept. 8, 1999, we will host a training/networking conference at Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond.

WHY DO WE DO THIS?

We were subject to criticism last year by a local talk radio host — a guy-type — for patronizing women by sponsoring the program. His thought was that the playing field is now level and there is no need for a special program to promote women leadership.

Needless to say, we disagree.

IS THE PLAYING FIELD LEVEL?

Women have made great strides forward in recent years but statistically, they are woefully under-represented in leadership positions. I don’t view this “true fact” as resulting necessarily from overt discrimination. Women have only entered the business leadership arena in large numbers over the past few years. On the other hand, men have been managerially entrenched for millennia. Habits and attitudes are slow to change.

As any good athlete knows, coming from behind requires extra push. We believe that our program helps capable women enhance their potential and reach for higher achievements in the business world.

WHAT DO THE WOMEN GET OUT OF IT?

On the surface, the program includes several women-specific seminars, a luncheon and an attractive plaque. On a deeper level, the networking opportunities and the inspiration from being exposed to other successful women is of far greater value.

In prior years, we have enjoyed outstanding keynote speakers: Thalia Mara, a living legend in the world of art and dance, spoke last year and Camille Keith, director of marketing for Southwest Airlines, spoke the year before. I have received more heartfelt calls and letters of appreciation from the participants in this program than any other project we have sponsored.

WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR NOMINATION?

Candidates must be a female resident of Mississippi or be employed in Mississippi. They should be currently occupying a position of leadership in a business or non-profit organization. Candidates must not be a politician, elected official or political appointee. MBJ staff members are not eligible for consideration.

Nominations must be received by July 30, 1999, in order to be eligible for consideration. I personally encourage our readers to nominate qualified women from all around Mississippi.

The only “sour grape” we have ever encountered was a male radio talk show host. What does that say about the program?

THOUGHT FOR THE MOMENT

What then is the spirit of liberty? The spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned.”

— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand, 1944

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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