FORT WORTH NEWS BUREAU
For Immediate Release Contact: Andra Bennett, APR
September 7, 2007 (817) 336-2491 x 265
Women Influencing Business Program
Brings Everyone to the Table
Fort Worth Chamber launches program series, new benefits for businesswomen
In a nod to the historic western roots of Cowtown, the Fort Worth Chamber‟s
newest member group is putting a new twist on an old game -- in more ways than one.
Women Influencing Business (WIB), a new Fort Worth Chamber program,
launches September 27th with a Texas Hold ‘em poker party at the Fort Worth Club
aimed at “bringing everyone to the table.” The program targets female professionals and
women business owners and is intended to involve and fully integrate women as
recognized leaders and advisors in the business community.
“WIB was formed to promote the success of all women in business in the Tarrant
County area,” said Karel Rucker, chairman of the WIB steering committee and owner of
Mother Rucker‟s Sweets. “We‟ve got to do a better job at making ourselves known and
available as legitimate and valuable community and business resources.”
As the Chamber nears the end of its 125th anniversary year, it has been
positioning itself for the next century. Earlier this spring, the Chamber launched Vision
Fort Worth, a program for young professionals.
“We strive to be relevant to changing business needs and that means adding value
for all our customers, especially for those who are interested in business community
leadership positions,” said Bill Thornton, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber.
Changing Workforce Demographics
A study conducted by the Center for Women‟s Business Research examined the
track record of women‟s business enterprises seeking entry to corporate markets. While
these companies earn a significant percentage of their revenues from Fortune 100
corporations, the study finds that women-owned businesses capture a mere 4 percent of
the billions spent annually on outside goods and services.
More than 50 percent of Fort Worth area businesses are women-owned and
operated, according to the Business Assistance Center, and 37 percent of Chamber
members are either women-owned and/or the main company representative is female.
“We realize this is a growth group for the organization and we want to recruit,
retain and engage more women in business,” said Marilyn Gilbert, executive vice
president of marketing for the Chamber. “But it‟s not just a membership initiative; it‟s an
economic development and leadership initiative as well.”
In early 2006, the Chamber conducted member focus groups to determine the
attitudes and needs of businesswomen. Participants expressed concerns about being taken
seriously by the male establishment. Many business women are looking for ways to not
only enhance their careers, but also establish themselves as community leaders sought for
business expertise or for board appointments.
The Chamber put together a steering committee of 19 women in diverse business
positions, from entrepreneurs to large-company executives. They researched best
practices of other women‟s programs and organizations in the Metroplex and nationwide
to see if needs were being met and to avoid duplicating effort. Among their findings, they
discovered women‟s groups covering “women‟s topics” but not integrating those women
with men who could provide contacts and access to business relationships they desired.
Upcoming WIB programs will be open to men and women, and address topics
that affect both sexes with roundtable discussions, and after-hours networking. The WIB
section of the Chamber‟s website will allow women to post their vitas and interests,
including golf handicaps. WIB will also address some issues specific to women, such as
breast cancer and its financial impact.
WIB Texas Hold ‘em Launch Party Details
* What: Texas Hold „em WIB Launch Party
* When: September 27, 2007 5:30-9:30 p.m.
* Where: Fort Worth Club, 306 W. 7th St., Fort Worth 76102
* Cost: $50, includes $10,000 of chips, heavy hors d‟ouevres and two drinks, big prize
packages to the final table winners and a traveling trophy to the top player.
Register online at www.fortworthchamber.com / Events & Registration.
For information on WIB, go to www.fortworthchamber.com / Member Groups or
contact Diana Dugan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-336-2491 x 258.
Women Influencing Business Sources
Steering Comm. Chairwoman Karel Rucker, Mother Rucker‟s Sweets (817) 244-8880
Suzi Hill, The Hill Company, email@example.com, (817) 535-5200
Dawn Howell, Design Works, firstname.lastname@example.org, (817) 246-2546
Cynthia Sadler, Frost Bank, email@example.com, (817) 420-5579
2006 Focus Group Summary
“Most participants felt that a segregated set of programs would not help drive
change and hoped that more implicit and integrated activities would accomplish
greater equality in the marketplace.”
“The hope is these initiatives would not be seen as events but more of a process
that sets a new tone and new set of expectations for how business gets done.”
2006 Focus Group Comments
“We would want something in the Chamber to support women but we should not
have solely women’s things because it would take us back in time.”
“Women are often seen as the implementers and not the leaders and decision-
“As a newcomer it is difficult to break into such an established network.”
“I don’t expect men to ask or introduce themselves unless I do it first. I just know I
have to be the one to initiate the contact. But it doesn’t make me uncomfortable.”
“Women have to be proactive… but we aren’t very good at tooting our own horn.”
“We need to be at the table with men and there needs to be one table. Often
though, I don’t even get the messages….to know where the table is.”