IT’S ONE of those open secrets of the business world – the old boys club where networks are built, connections made and information traded to advance careers and build the fortunes of companies.
A group of women in Terrace has now taken that model and is adapting it for their own purposes.
Called Terrace Women in Business, the group is the creation of chartered accountant Erin Reimer and financial planner Grace Edison.
Reimer, born in Terrace but gone for a time, and Edison, originally from Prince Edward Island, both moved to Terrace about two years ago and met at a yoga studio owned by Edison.
“I think we first had coffee and realized we had a lot in common with our overall career goals and what we wanted to do in Terrace,” said Edison.
Both having worked in larger centres elsewhere and in larger offices, they knew the challenges working women face – meeting and surpassing expectations above what male workers face, working harder and longer than male workers.
It’s true that there are more women than ever in careers where men once dominated but it’s also true there are few women in positions at the top executive ranks of those careers.
“We bonded over the fact of how there could be help for women to advance their causes so we decided to start our own group,” said Reimer.
“What we wanted was a group to strengthen, encourage and educate women for as far as they wanted to go,” added Edison.
Formed a year ago, Terrace Women in Business has approximately 20 members – and is actively looking for more – and meets once a month.
“What we wanted was a solid group of women,” explains Edison in setting the stage for the group’s philosophy.
“Women tend to cut each other down and there are jealousies. In the business world it’s hard for women to move up because there have been so few positions historically for women. They feel they are pitted against each other for those few positions. This is about encouragement and support.”
Reimer also points out an advantage in developing cooperative business relationships by being a member of a business group.
“It creates opportunities to work together. It makes work so much better when paths do cross,” said Reimer, adding that she’d recommend a prospective client to someone else if she thought it would result in a better fit.
There is a brief social networking period at the start of each meeting followed by the main educational and information portion.
Both Reimer and Edison are clear in stating the meetings are not about marketing a product or business by one member to others. And they are not bitching sessions either.
“This is sharing what we’ve learned. If someone comes up against a roadblock and feels frustrated, someone else may have a solution. It can be a form of gentle mentorship,” said Reimer.
“It’s just helpful to listen to other people and hear what they have done.”
At first meetings were held over the noon hour but that has now changed to evenings when schedules tend to be more free.
Group members include people who own small businesses such as clothing shops, fitness centres, a bookstore and people who are real estate agents and graphic designers. Past presenters have included a partner in a micro brewery, a clothing store owner and an author and at a session tomorrow, a realtor is scheduled to make a presentation.