More than 1,500 entrepreneurs, business and community leaders are taking part Wednesday in the fifth annual Indiana Conference For Women in Indianapolis. The sold-out conference, which is the largest event of its kind in the Midwest, features high-profile speakers including Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and ForbesWoman President and Publisher Moira Forbes. Co-founder Deborah Collins Stephens says panels and breakout sessions will focus on leadership skills and address women’s business issues such as access to capital, representation on boards and pay equity.
Co-founder Billie Dragoo and Indiana University Vice President for Development and External Relations Joyce Rogers joined Stephens on a special edition of the INsiders on Inside INdiana Business Television. The theme of this year’s conference is "Dare. Dream. Do." Inside INdiana Business Television Host Gerry Dick will deliver opening remarks.
Stephens says access to capital is an especially crucial issue facing women business owners and entrepreneurs. She says less than four percent of venture money in the United States goes to women. Rogers says women face a similar issue on corporate boards, where they fill 18 percent of board seats in the top 1,000 corporations in the United States. She says companies must understand that "we’re half of the work force," and corporate boards must reflect that.
Another featured speaker this year is THINX co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Miki Agrawal. Stephens says the company is "disrupting the $15 billion feminine hygiene market" with a product that was named one of TIME magazine’s "25 Best New Inventions of 2015." She has partnered up with AFRIpads in Uganda to provide the product to students and help get more than 30,000 girls back to school. She is also the founder of a farm-to-table gluten-free pizza restaurant called WILD, which has been open for more than 10 years.
Rogers says the bottom line is that "women have to support women if we’re going to be successful."