An old Chinese proverb proclaims that women hold up half the sky. It’s a wonderful sentiment. A recognition that women are strong. Powerful.
A statement that women thrive in collaborative environments. We act on ideas. We share stories and speak to be heard. We encourage change.
A proclamation that we see the sky and can look beyond it. We don’t limit our boundaries but call to our brothers and partners to encourage each other to expand across it.
We believe in this sentiment even as we work in environments where women are often short-changed. Looked over for promotions, paid abhorrently less than our male counterparts, made to feel less than. We sadly rank well behind other developed countries in regard to provisions and paid time off for new families.
In past years we have failed to recognize the benefits of a true democracy—lead by diversity of color, sex, and gender. Nearly 60 countries—including India, China, Israel, and Pakistan—have had women leaders or heads of state.
The United States remains absent from that list.
Yet we continue to persevere through all of it. And now there is a changing tide. A ripple effect. Both politically and on the business front. It’s happening in the United States.
And it’s happening in Detroit.
The National Association of Women Business Owners reports that more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women. These firms employ nearly nine million people and had annual sales topping $1.7 trillion in 2017. Women of color own 5.4 million firms, employ 2.1 million people, and generate $361 billion in annual revenues.
Detroit is part of this growing trend. From restaurants, bakeries, and blow-out bars, women-led businesses are booming.
A typical team meeting is set in the owner’s comfortable and eclectic home in Huntington Woods, Michigan. With Gregorian chant softly playing in the background and cups full of Israeli coffee, we converse around a dining table in a comfortable manner, each one of us fully confident to share ideas.
Our lively discussion is rich in thought, productive, and allows us to explore and entertain new possibilities.
This setting provides the perfect backdrop for free expression and collaboration. For idea creation.
We leave the meeting energized, recognizing that we each hold up the sky.
We are strong.
And we are powerful.
We are creators, innovators, change-makers.
Each one of us. Each with a unique story. Standing together, ready, to help you share your story.
Christina Stansell Weaver is Vice President, Content, and a communications professor at Eastern Michigan University.