Running a family business naturally has its challenges. But for women, stepping up to the helm of the family ship can come with an entirely different set of challenges. As the Founder of an International association for professional businesswomen, JoAnn Hines knows this first-hand.
Women In Packaging promotes and encourages the growth and success of women within the packaging industry, an industry that has historically been dominated by men. In addition to providing a forum for networking and career development, Women In Packaging has focused a great deal of time and energy on eliminating misconceptions, stereotypes, and discrimination against women in the profession. JoAnnīs association has representation from every facet of the industry. Member companies run the gamut from fast food to the military to lawyers, from small family owned and operated businesses to giant national companies like Nabisco and Hewlett Packard. After all, packaging is the 3rd largest industry in the United States. It contributes over a trillion dollars to the economy and employs over one million people. 10% of every dollar spent on retail purchases is attributed to packaging— a fact the average consumer probably doesnīt know.
Historically, when itīs time for a family business to transition to the next generation, it has been the sons who have stepped forward. But for nearly two decades, that pattern has changed, and each year, more and more daughters are stepping into leadership roles. Unfortunately, many are finding that they have to work twice as hard as their brothers to gain experience, respect, and the confidence of the company. This is particularly true in the case in industries like packaging.
Packaging Horizons, the quarterly magazine of Women In Packaging, featured an article by Jamie Heckelman which dealt with some of the unique issues and situations facing women striving for success and leadership in the packaging industry. This article found that women in leadership positions often had to start at a lower position than their male counterparts, and took longer to climb through the ranks. Patience and persistence was necessary when breaking down established misconceptions.
For example, many women in the industry found that when men called the company, they automatically assumed that any women they spoke with were in support or secretarial roles. And when they had technical questions, they nearly always asked to speak to a man. It will take time and effort to change these outdated perceptions.