In honor of Women’s Equality Day this Saturday, we sat down with our CEO, Beth Tucker, to hear about her thoughts on women in the workforce, how the workforce has changed since she founded KNF&T, and her personal experience as a CEO. Here is what she had to say:
Q: What does Women’s Equality Day mean to you?
A: To me, it means equal pay for equal work between men and women. It’s also a celebration for what women have accomplished over the last 30-50 years in terms of getting themselves into positions of authority, running companies and being able to be successful entrepreneurs.
Q: How have you made strides to break the glass ceiling?
A: It’s been different for me as an entrepreneur – I didn’t really have a glass ceiling per say as one would interpret it in a large company. But there were certainly glass ceilings I had to break in terms of starting my company. For example, back then, making banking relationships and finding a bank to support us were a little more difficult. Banks were more skeptical of women-owned businesses and it was harder to get credit lines. However, I was able to successfully convince the bank that my business was secure and strengthen those relationships over the years. As a result, I was able to take out a bank loan with ease when I bought out my partner in 2011.
Q: Who has inspired you professionally?
A: So many woman entrepreneurs, especially Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook. Her book Lean In is inspiring as it talks about how young women need to be socialized differently to be given the confidence and the tools to be able to grow and advocate for themselves. She’s a great role model!
Q: What have you done to help other women advance in their careers?
A: Mentorship has been a big part of my life. I’ve mentored emerging entrepreneurs regarding their careers through the Boston Chamber of Commerce. I’ve also mentored women internally at KNF&T who are trying to get to the next stages of their careers. In my personal life, I have also mentored a lot of recent college grads – getting that first step, how to interview, and asking for more money when they deserve it.
Q: How has women’s positions in the workforce changed since you started your career?
A: There were many fewer of them in the workforce when I graduated college. There were very few women role models out there. Now there is growth in the small businesses primarily lead by women. We still have a lot of work to do, I think, but there are now many more female leaders in organizations and CEOs than there were before.
Q: What advice would you give young women starting their careers?
A: Do the absolute best job you can in the job that you are in. Be visible. Ask questions. Be curious. Take on additional responsibilities and put in those extra hours early in your career. Look for mentorship within your organization – mentorship comes in all forms. Take opportunities when opportunities are presented and don’t be afraid.