JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — While Alpharetta was named the best city for women entrepreneurs in 2015 by GoodCall, business is often still thought of as a man’s world.
In order to bring businesswomen together to network, share experiences and support each other, the fifth annual Women in Business event was held May 3 by the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
The event recognized four women nominated for honors as “Business Women of Excellence” and “JenLan Rising Star.”
Business Woman of Excellence Award:
• Winner: Debbie Vereb, executive vice president, Operations, SPH Analytics
• Finalist: Cindy Hardy, regional director of Physician Relations, WellStar North Fulton Hospital
The JenLan Rising Star Award:
• Winner: Adilka Indhira White, director of Healthcare Solutions & Implementations, UPS
• Finalist: Layne Kamsler, attorney, Hipes and Belle Isle Law Firm
Keynote speaker Gail Evans was the first female vice president at CNN. The business world was created by men for men, she said.
“It’s not to be difficult,” she said. “It’s because at the time most of our businesses were being built, there weren’t a lot of women out there.”
From studying business history, Evans said men are believed to be competent until they prove they’re incompetent. However, women are believed to be the opposite.
The reality is these are the norms that have been established in our culture, she said.
“It’s important to understand this because I feel women in business keep waiting for things to change or women to assume more positions of power,” Evans said. “The good news is we have a room full today. But the bad news is the number of women in leadership or power is virtually unchanged in the past decade.”
Evans said it’s hard to make a fundamental cultural change. She said she’s noticed that our language and the words we use in business make men more powerful and women less powerful.
Due to that, she said women are often described in the workforce as hardworking, dependable, collaborative, nice and smart. Men are often described as a leader, strategic and ambitious. So when it comes time for one to get a promotion, she said the man is usually chosen due to those adjectives.
“It’s important to understand we live in a very ‘genderized’ world,” Evans said. “If we are going to succeed and change our culture, we need to look deep within ourselves and within society to understand this is what we learned from the day we were born.”
But the biggest thing for women in business to understand, Evans said, is that women need to begin to support each other.
“Don’t sit there and think, ‘what do I need to do?’” she said. “It’s ‘what do we need to do.’ How do we need to support each other so we don’t get caught up? We need to forget the things we were taught as children that don’t support us getting to our dreams.”