March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme embraces the celebration of women who empower their communities through stories and action. Unfortunately, this past year the Chamber and our community lost one of our brightest, most energetic leaders with the passing of Deanne Connolly Graham who for years led our Women’s Business Council and provided inspiration to all. Many of us continue to celebrate her legacy of community leadership and this year the Chamber will present the first Deanne Connolly Graham Outstanding Women to a most deserving recipient at the Chamber’s Champions of Business event on March 30th — our own Stephanie Ledger who chairs our Women’s Business Council and is vice-chair of our Tourism and Hospitality Council.
As part of this Month, it is important to reflect on the contributions that women make to our businesses and our Chamber. People like Stephanie, our own immediate past chair Robin Jacobs, past chairpersons, Jan A. Pfeiffer, Lucia Dougherty and Joy V.W. Malakoff; as well as members like Paul Hopkins, Thais Asper Keane, Ceci Velasco, Mirielle Enlow, and Linsey Lovell, our vice chair and newly appointed member of the city’s Historic Preservation Board, among others. The Chamber is committed to promoting and spotlighting the accomplishments of all of our female leaders, especially during this upcoming month.
With increasing gender equality and the push for diversity in leadership, many companies realize that by hiring and promoting women to executive positions they reap numerous benefits, including improved decision-making, increased innovation, and better business performance. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with a higher proportion of women in leadership positions outperformed their peers on measures such as financial performance, productivity, and employee engagement. Moreover, by providing diverse perspectives and collaborative decision-making, the McKinsey study found that female leaders do more to support employee well-being and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion—work that dramatically improves retention and employee satisfaction.
South Florida is home to many talented and successful businesswomen in executive positions who are making a significant impact on the region’s business landscape. These executives come from a wide range of industries, including finance, real estate, healthcare, and technology. In addition, South Florida is home to many organizations that are providing mentorship and leadership for the next generation of female executives. Organizations such as, The Womens Fund of Miami Dade County, which through grant making, advocacy, and research has for the past three decades, invested in transformative initiatives supporting women and girls across our community. Another outstanding organization is 100+ Women Who Care Miami Beach, an alliance of philanthropic women, who support non-profits in Miami-Dade County. Not to mention our own Chamber’s Education Foundation which has supported community efforts to engage and support leadership initiatives for women and high school and grade school students.
Together, these organizations led by outstanding female executives are spearheading transformative growth initiatives that enhance opportunities for women to establish themselves and contribute to our community and inspire others just as Deanne did and help shape our region’s future.