We Keeney’s employees have two reasons to celebrate today: first it is our President’s 35th anniversary with the company, and second, it is International Women’s Day. Both of these events seem improbable; Lisa does not seem like she’s old enough to have been in the workforce for 35 years, and she did not start working here on the day she was born (our founder, Bob, was a stern parent, but not to that degree). However, her business acumen, her wisdom in steering our relatively small company of 32 people through the hazardous waters of the Office Supply industry, as many larger, better funded and almost entirely male-run companies have, been eaten by competitors or failed outright, would suggest that she has always had an older person’s knowledge and judgement. When you look around the company and see many people who have been here more than 10 years, and a large handful who have stayed for almost Lisa’s entire tenure, you know that she is an excellent boss; a person who inspires others to their best work and makes her company a home, not just a workplace.
International Women’s Day is a funny concept. Why do we restrict the observance of how women contribute to society, and in particular to business, one day a year? At Keeney’s we have 32 employees – half of whom are women. Including Lisa, we have 9 employees with the word “manager” in their title – 5 of the 9 are women. Lisa listens equally to input from women and men in her employ, and frequently includes rank and file employees in decision-making if they have a unique perspective – without regard to gender, or years with the company. That may be another reason employees stay at Keeney’s for so long – people like to be valued for their minds and opinions, as well as their competency and productivity. Is this how it works at companies run by men? I don’t have recent, direct knowledge of that because I’ve been here for so long, but from what I hear, men in charge usually don’t place so much value on listening.
As a man benefitting from all these advantages of working in a woman owned company, working for a President like Lisa, I cannot fully get behind the idea of an annual “International Woman’s Day.” At Keeney’s, we should be celebrating women in the workforce, women leading companies, women setting the standard for excellence every day. I know that if my female coworkers had stayed home today, the rest of us would have had a hell of a time getting anything done – not because we’re incompetent without our female coworkers, but because we are dependent on them.
So, three cheers for the women, six for the women of Keeney’s, and twelve for Lisa, on her 35th work anniversary.
-Steven Sterne, GM, Keeney’s Office Supply and Interiors