WBENCConf Rewind: Theresa Harrison’s Heartfelt Message to Women-Owned Businesses

Each year, the Chair of the WBENC Board of Directors has the opportunity to speak to almost 4000 attendees at the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair. After a moving tribute to the victims in Orlando this year, WBENC’s new Board Chair and EY Global Diversity and Inclusiveness Leader Theresa Harrison opened the conference with a heartfelt address to the gathered attendees:

“Our diversity is our strength. Your unique perspective is powerful. Our WBEs come from all backgrounds – it is those rich backgrounds and varied experiences that enable innovation with fresh ideas and new perspectives. Diversity creates curiosity. No matter who you are – what your race is – or sexual orientation or disability or age – your experience is part of the tapestry of WBENC."

“Our diversity is our strength. Your unique perspective is powerful. Our WBEs come from all backgrounds – it is those rich backgrounds and varied experiences that enable innovation with fresh ideas and new perspectives. Diversity creates curiosity. No matter who you are – what your race is – or sexual orientation or disability or age – your experience is part of the tapestry of WBENC.”She drew from recent data to share the growth not just in the number of women-owned businesses, but also in the diverse background of those women starting businesses.

She drew from recent data to share the growth not just in the number of women-owned businesses, but also in the diverse background of those women starting businesses. 

  • There are an estimated 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States. They employ almost 9 million people and generate over 1.6 trillion in revenues.

One of the most remarkable trends over the past decade has been the tremendous growth in the number of firms owned by women of color.

  • Just in the last 11 years the number of firms owned by women of color more than doubled (126% increase).
  • That means that nearly 8 out of 10 newly launched firms since 2007 were started by a women of color.
  • The Latina-owned firms are leading the way, growing at a rate of 137%, and now accounting for just under 1.9 million firms.

Want more statistics? See our Top 10 Women Owned Business Facts.

Harrison asked attendees to reflect on the journey of their business as we approach the WBENC’s 20th Anniversary year—and further challenged attendees to remember that when we work together, we all win.

“Take a moment to reflect how this incredible, beautiful, diverse group has propelled your business forward. How has a fellow WBE or a Corporate Member, who is vastly different from you, shaped your world for the better?”

Harrison emphasized the tipping point in history for women-owned business, and that the tide of success can lift all ships. 

“Your success means more success for everyone in this room. And when we Join Forces – when we work together, and rely on our diversity of backgrounds, then the magic happens. Growth begets growth, innovation opens unimaginable doors, and in the end – we are all succeeding together.”

Want to hear more from Theresa Harrison? Read “The Biggest Challenges as a Business Owner,” where she participates in a Q&A discussion with WBE Cheryl Snead, Women’s Enterprise Forum Chair and Roz Lewis, and Leadership Council Chair.

“Take a moment to reflect how this incredible, beautiful, diverse group has propelled your business forward. How has a fellow WBE or a Corporate Member, who is vastly different from you, shaped your world for the better?”

 

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Posted on July 20, 2016 .