GPCC President & CEO Todd Sanders

Nearly half of all workers in the United States are women. Nearly 10 million businesses which collectively contribute $1.4 trillion dollars to our economy are owned by women. And, by age 29, approximately 34 percent of women have earned a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, only 26 percent of men will have done the same. The future of our economy and workforce is female.

On March 8, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day. As a frontier state, Arizona has long been a place where women broke barriers and served as pioneering leaders at all levels in the community.  Our state is a place where women have always been leading the way forward.

Arizona has a rich history of women shaping public policy. The first female justice for the United State Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, was from Arizona. Our first female governor, Rose Mofford was only the tenth female governor in our nation’s history.

And, in 1998, Arizona was the first state where women simultaneous held the top elected offices in the state. The “Fab Five,” as they were known, included Governor Jane Hull, Secretary of State Betsey Bayless, state Attorney General Janet Napolitano, state Treasurer Carol Springer and Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan. These women made a lasting impact in state government, and made headlines nationwide.

Beyond policy, female business leaders are accelerating our economy forward. For thirty years, the Chamber has highlighted the most accomplished women in Valley business through our ATHENA Awards. GPCC boasts one of the largest and most established ATHENA programs in the country, and our honorees amaze me more and more each year. Through our ATHENA Awards we honored United States ambassadors and public policy leaders, and our ATHENAs include leaders in technology and innovation, educators and dedicated community servants—all of whom are elevating our business community.

As a business leader, I see first-hand the importance of women in business. In fact, the Chamber is made up of a small but mighty staff. A staff that is 79 percent female.  Not to mention the fact that my two predecessors were strong women leaders.

I know that the future of our businesses, our community and our economic success is one where women have an equal voice at the table—the board room table—as leaders and potential leaders. From Ambassador Barbara Barrett to nationally recognized author and executive coach Tanya Wheeless, our Chamber board of directors has included some of the most prominent female leaders in the state. The voices of these women and so many others, are going to be critical for the future of Arizona.

And so, I’m going to ask you to take a moment to recognize and celebrate the female employees and leaders in your organization and in your life that are driving your business forward. These are women propelling new ideas and championing economic prosperity.

It is through the hard work and dedication of women that Phoenix has flourished. From female-led companies and groundbreaking women who have conquered challenges in business and government, it is women in business and in the community who are moving Phoenix forward.

Posted by Danny Imes