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The Future for Women Is Bright What American Business Women’s Day Means to Me Thanks to the women before me who laid the groundwork, I’ve always been able to look at my life without excuses or someone to blame.
W ith Labor Day moving into the rearview mirror, I wanted to take this moment to thank all the first responders, highway patrol, and everyone else who worked while the rest of us had a day off. I sincerely value the sacrifice these beautiful people make so we can enjoy our vacations without fear and stress. They protect our freedoms and enable us to make the most out of our lives — a concept I sincerely appreciate as a woman. September 22 is American Business Women’s Day, which prompts some reflection on my time as a female business owner. I’ve always been a bit of an odd duck. While a lot of noise is made about oppression and bias, I always see opportunity. When I started my first business in the ’90s, I was naive in a lot of ways, but I don’t think the way I viewed myself as a woman fell into this category. I didn’t even consider that being a woman in business was something I should be aware of. I just saw myself as a professional, and I went to work every day with that mentality. Thanks to the women before me who laid the groundwork, I’ve always been able to look at my life without excuses or someone to blame. I can start a business just like anyone else can, and I can successfully build it as an entrepreneur, just as anyone else can. This is precisely what I did. When I started my CPA firm, I didn’t see myself as a woman blazing into new territory. There were plenty of women at that time who had their own businesses. Yes, it was definitely a male-dominated industry, but it didn’t occur to me that my gender was an obstacle that I needed to consider. And you know what? I think
that was an excellent thing. It’s special that we have the right to start a business and not worry about being a woman. There are countries where this would be impossible and against the law. These women have an excuse; they face real oppression. I frequently come across women complaining that they didn’t get something because of their gender, and I struggle to relate to that sentiment. If I didn’t get an account, or if someone doesn’t want to work with me for their mortgage, it never crosses my mind that it’s a gender issue. I look at where I went wrong and evaluate how to do better. In many cases, I found plenty of problems, but not one of them was gender- related. One situation that upsets me is when women wear perceived oppression as a badge of honor. That is a negative mindset that only takes us one of two directions. One is that we don’t have to accept responsibility, and that breeds indolence. The other
is that this mindset causes us to look negatively at other people and develop a sense of distrust. I’ve hired and fired enough people to see that this perception doesn’t benefit us as a society. Even with this negative connotation, I see the future of women in this country as bright, because frankly, it’s been bright for decades. I’ve owned my own business for 28 years, and I see the sky as the limit for anyone who wants to do the same. If you have the personal accountability and the ambition to do something with your life, progress is going to follow you like Freckles does on the leash when I walk him. Hopefully, progress will follow much faster than Freckles. He’s slow. Ambition is fast.
-Jamie Harrington 1 828.229.7877
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