People can create history with a simple idea combined with great passion and effort. Women across the world are continually impacting society, and every March, we have another opportunity to honor the forward momentum they create. Here are five exceptional women, both past and present, that made history and significantly impacted business for the better.
Sales in the Past: Madam C.J. Walker
Born in 1867 formerly as Sarah Breedlove, Madam C.J. Walker was a businesswoman, philanthropist, activist, and the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire. After her early years of hard labor, orphanage, relationship challenges, and physical stress, she moved to Denver, Colorado, to start a new life. Walker launched her own African American hair care line that aimed to grow and straighten African Americans' hair while equipping black women with economic independence. She opened the "Walker System" training programs and owned a national team of licensed sales agents for her brand. In addition to her savvy business skills, Walker donated to several charities, educational institutes, and other initiatives to help propel civil rights and education forward. When she passed in 1919, her business sales topped $500,000, and her total net worth was over $1 million.
Tech in the Present: Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg inspires women in more ways than one. From a career perspective, she is the chief operating officer at Facebook and has previously held several corporate leadership positions. During her time in corporate America, Sandberg has faced adversity, controversy, and success, including her achievement as the first appointed woman on Facebook's board of directors in 2012. She has also been nationally recognized as one of corporate America's top executives. From a relatable aspect, Sheryl is the best-selling author of 'Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.' Her book inspired her to create an online community for women, LeanIn.org, to encourage women to follow their dreams and provide support to other members.
Marketing in the Past: Estée Lauder
Estée Lauder's uncle sparked her interest in cosmetics when he taught her how to make velvety skin cream for women. In partnership with her husband, Lauder built one of the largest and most successful beauty empires ever. Dubbed a fantastic marketer, she combined her love for reaching the customer and her skills to create the "gift with purchase" selling point that many brands use in their marketing and sales tactics today. Estée Lauder is an iconic American entrepreneur and is still one of the top beauty companies in the world.
Retail in the Present: Carol M. Meyrowitz
Carol M. Meyrowitz is the Executive Chairman of the Board and the Chairman of the Executive Committee of TJX Companies. From clothing to home goods, this leading retailer and $21 billion business includes T.J. Maxx, Home Goods, and Marshalls, and is built around affordable options. Meyrowitz started her career as an assistant buyer at Saks and steadily climbed the ladder, leading TJX as the Executive Vice President, President, Senior Executive Vice President, and CEO until she stepped down in 2016.
Healthcare in the Past: Kadambini Ganguly
Kadambini Ganguly was the first female practitioner in South Asia to earn a degree and practice western medicine. She was born in 1860 in modern-day Bangladesh and was known to push for women's freedom in India during a time when women were heavily oppressed. Ganguly also served as one of the first women to vote in the Indian National Congress and was noted as a powerhouse and voice for women's rights until her passing at the age of 63.
As you can see, there’s never been a moment in history without a woman impacting it. Each day, the world is guided by the insight, dedication, and intelligence women provide. While this post is only reflective of a few, there are thousands of women worldwide that may go unmentioned, and we appreciate all of you. Happy International Women’s Month!