A Salute to WeKC

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Ingram’s Women Executives-Kansas City program and we’re pleased to recognize all of the honorees who have contributed so much.


By Joe Sweeney


It’s hard to believe this year marks the 25th anniversary of Ingram’s WeKC program. WeKC began a couple years before Michelle and I purchased the publication and at the time, it was more programmatic in terms of advocating women leadership with annual conferences. 

The evolution of WeKC included recognizing women who not only achieved executive status but who contributed on a high level to their organizations, industries and to the communities they serve. I remember in the late ’90s the difficulty of identifying a dozen new women business leaders each year who had emerged to high level executive positions. Has that ever changed.

It’s also hard to believe we still hear about glass ceilings and women’s equality in business. So much has changed since 1993, and trends show that the number of women entering the work force is outpacing that of men and each year we see further progress of women in the executive roles, including within the C-suite. 

I think back four or five decades and of the role of women in business and to be honest, I do not recall knowing many women in management or executive roles in those days, other than in those stereotypical roles of teaching, nursing and support roles such as secretarial. 

Fast forward to 2017 and times are significantly different—by a long shot. And for the better. It’s been interesting to observe—over the past decade in particular—how the move of women into executive roles has also played out at the small- and mid-size company level. Since the onset of the Great Recession a decade ago, Census data tells us, growth of female ownership of business has considerably outpaced growth of companies led by men.

That includes female entrepreneurs at the start-up level, an area we try to pay close attention to, given the well-documented role that fresh, young companies play in creating jobs. And there is ample research that demonstrates the effectiveness—organizational, and bottom-line—of women in leadership roles. 

The next layers of the glass ceiling: Forune 500 leadership (women still hold just a few percentage points of the total number of companies there). And board seats for women, especially with large public companies and companies in industries that continue to be male-dominated, and are likely to be for the longer term, such as construction and engineering.

I suppose in our role as publishing Ingram’s  today we pay less attention to gender than we do of collaborating with people in executive positions and we think nothing about a women serving in a CEO role. Many of the brightest executives today are women and it appears the percentages increase a little more each year.

What once was a very difficult process to identify and recognize 12 deserving honorees in a given year because of the limited number of women in executive roles is difficult again today, but for a completely different reason: There are so many achieved women in executive roles to consider. 

If you consider our honorees this year, one might ask how many of these women had not been selected before. Fair question. To be honest, that’s exactly how I felt this year when our committee was discussing the candidates. For every honoree, however, we have 10 or more extremely impressive and achi-eved women we did not select.   

You’re Invited to the WeKC Luncheon

Each year we host a very nice luncheon on behalf of our honorees and their guests. This year, we very much hope our WeKC alums and many other friends will join us as well to recognize our 2017 honorees and each of our valued alumnae as we celebrate the 25th year milestone. For details, see page 24. 

About the author

joesweeneysig

Joe Sweeney

Editor-In-Chief & Publisher

JSweeney@Ingrams.com

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