March 8th is International Women’s Day and Borshoff is proud to be a city-, state- and nationally-certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE). Why? Because we believe that female leaders are a critical factor in our future success. As we see women like Vice President Kamala Harris, Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, and other female leaders rise to top positions, two of our partners, Jennifer Young Dzwonar and Karen Alter, reflect on who and what has inspired them to make a difference not only for our company but for our community.
B: What is the most impactful lesson you’ve learned from a female mentor?
JYD: Surround yourself with people who support your lifestyle choice. Meaning if you’re planning to work full-time after having a child, surround yourself with people who support that and help keep you happy, healthy and functioning in that role.
KA: Don’t delay tough conversations. As a leader, you are going to have them—a lot of them. Address the people and the issues as quickly as possible, otherwise the stress will be overwhelming, and the outcome will be less effective.
B: What is the biggest change you’ve experienced in your career in terms of women in leadership?
JYD: I’ve been blessed to have female bosses—and two fabulous feminist male bosses—throughout my career. The change I’ve seen is that there are more alternative paths to take to leadership these days, rather than just working full-time from college until your 40s and hoping to get a partner/leader position. Women are taking alternative, part-time, consulting, career-switching paths, and redefining what leadership looks like.
KA: I’ve seen more acceptance of women as leaders, influencers, change agents. Working for bold and trailblazing women at Borshoff, I found the confidence to shape my own leadership path within the company and with community initiatives that I’m passionate about.
B: You are both involved with the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. How has this shaped or expanded your views and perspectives about the needs of women and children in our community and elsewhere?
JYD: Women’s Fund’s focus on bringing women to economic independence has been eye-opening and life-changing for me, as I’ve seen the many ways in which people and communities can make that challenging for women. There is still much work to do to give all women access to the mental, physical, financial and community infrastructure needed to ensure their families succeed.
KA: I wanted to be involved with an organization that focuses on programs for women and girls, and to meet other women who share interests, values and experiences similar to mine. Thanks to Women’s Fund, I have a deeper understanding of the real issues in our community and the opportunities where I can make an impact. I’ve also built a network of inspiring women who are shaping the future for the next generation of women in Central Indiana.
B: What impact do you think the newly elected female leaders on the national stage will have on the acceptance of women as a powerful force for good today and for the future?
JYD: I’ve come to realize how important representation is, how important it is to see someone who looks like you in a role before you can envision yourself in that role.
KA: It’s empowering to see women rise to key positions locally and nationally. I was blessed to have strong female role models, but I know that’s not been the case for other women. Seeing women making a difference and sharing their ideas is important not only for other women, but for our future.
B: How can women continue to succeed in maintaining a healthy balance of family, work/career and self-care?
JYD: This is a given these days, that we must find ways to keep ourselves healthy in all ways if we’re to be good professionals, and definitely if we’re going to be good family members. It’s not easier these days, but it is more of a priority. Of course, it completely depends on what type of job you have, what your home situation is, your children’s needs, etc.—but the fact is, there are more companies like ours that understand that maintaining some sort of healthy balance isn’t an option, it’s an imperative.
KA: Since forever, women have been juggling the priorities and demands of themselves, their families and their communities. It’s what we do. That said, having support systems in place is crucial to keeping yourself and those around you healthy and happy. Make sure you surround yourself with others you can lean on and don’t be afraid to ask for help—that is a sign of strength.
B: What/who inspires you to be a better leader?
JYD: My business partners, in that we are stronger together than we are individually, but they need me to uphold my part of the structure. They need me to be the best me I can be, to keep the partnership flowing. Maybe it’s a female thing, but sharing decisions and authority comes naturally, and makes us all better leaders.
KA: I frequently talk with college students who are pursuing a career in advertising or public relations, and it energizes me to listen to their goals and dreams and talk with them about lessons I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) and advice I can give them as they embark on their journeys. I’m blown away at their questions and talent, and this encourages me to keep giving and being my best.
Check out these blogs to learn more about WBE: