What does it mean for women to Thrive?

In the workplace, a culture of inclusivity and advancement benefits all. Starting with women in the workplace, we created Thrive to build an environment where we can flourish and grow together. The importance of lifting one another up and inciting positive change is invaluable, and through this conscious effort, we work to inspire everybody to Thrive as one.

 

 

 

Female Trailblazers in Business

This March, we're celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting the great work that women have accomplished in the workplace. See more great content about the impact of hardworking women here.

Even in today's world, women are significantly underrepresented in many markets and, most notably, are often completely absent from leadership and executive roles. Men often lead industries that primarily employ women and target female-dominated market segments. Thanks to the tenacity and ingenuity of the following women, that gap is closing.

Female leaders are often held to higher standards than their male counterparts and, consequently, are often recognized for the accountability that comes with added scrutiny. The women on this list broke molds in their industries with a high degree of honor and respect that has endured through the ages. 

Biddy Mason

1818–1891

Born into slavery, Biddy Mason defied the odds to find success in many areas. She ultimately became a noted real estate mogul, but her achievements are wide and varied, including her work as a nurse and the founder of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. At the age of 48, Mason began purchasing property, amassing an incredible $300,000 (more than $6 million today) fortune, making her the richest Black woman west of the Mississippi. She successfully petitioned the court for her freedom and never stopped breaking the mold until her passing in 1891.

 

Clara Abbott

1857–1924

Historically, women have not had a representative place within corporate board structures, and Abbott Laboratories was the first company to have a female member on its board. Clara Abbott, the wife of founder Wallace Abbott, found her place on the board before the company became publicly listed in 1924. Upon her passing, Abbott left shares of stock to create a charity for the betterment of Abbott employees. The foundation endures to this day.

 

Marie Curie

1867–1934

Marie Curie's work as a physicist, particularly with the theory of radioactivity, changed the world. Her research informed our understanding of radioactive materials and their uses. This groundbreaking work earned her 2 Nobel Prizes, making her the first woman to win a prize and the first person to win a second prize. To date, only 58 women (of more than 900 Nobel laureates) have won the prize. Undoubtedly, her work has inspired countless women to pursue the sciences and create significant advancement in any male-dominated field.

 

Coco Chanel

1883–1971

Known for her eponymous fashion house, Coco Chanel was a revolutionary in woman's clothing throughout her entire tenure in the industry. By introducing new materials, designing menswear-inspired silhouettes, and making a foray into fragrance, she crafted an aesthetic that has endured and influenced the world of fashion as we know it. The growth she cultivated has made Chanel a leader in today's world, nearly 50 years after her death.

 

Estée Lauder

1908–2004

Industries designed to serve women—and those with female-dominated workforces—often have male-dominated management and executive teams. Estée Lauder went against that, creating and running a successful cosmetics and skincare company. Starting with a small advertising budget, she formulated her products and sold them independently as she grew her company into one of the most successful and largest purveyors of cosmetics.

 

Katharine Graham

1917–2001

Katharine Graham paved the way for many female journalists and writers. She served as one of the most influential publishers of an American newspaper that still stands strong—The Washington Post. Graham presided over the paper from 1963 to 1991, leading the publication through the breaking of the Watergate scandal, which resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. She was the first female Fortune 500 CEO in history and held the titles of president, publisher, and chairwoman of the board. Her memoir, Personal History, won a Pulitzer Prize.

 

Sandra Day O'Connor

1930–

Before Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, there was Sandra Day O'Connor. Nominated to the Supreme Court under the Reagan administration, she was known for making fair and just decisions that often deviated from a strong party alignment. Her determination to prove that women had a place on the bench has affected further iterations of the court after her retirement and the progress of the study of law.

 

Oprah Winfrey

1954–

Perhaps the most well-known name on this list, Oprah Winfrey is recognized globally for her massive achievements, philanthropy, and the power she has brought to African American women. The "Queen of All Media" became the richest African American of the 20th century and America's first Black multibillionaire. Over her career, she brought empathy to her pursuits in business and on-air, never straying from a mission to raise up others in groundbreaking ways.

 

Angela Merkel

1954 -

The influence of global politics on business cannot be denied, and, as the de facto leader of the European Union, Angela Merkel was one of the most powerful leaders of the free world during her tenure as Chancellor of Germany. She prioritized strengthening economic relations within the EU and across intercontinental borders, managing turbulent times throughout the global economy. She successfully served 4 terms as chancellor before announcing that she would not seek re-election in 2021.  

 

Marilyn Hewson

1954 -

Topping Fortune's 2019 list of the world's most powerful women, Hewson was the CEO, chairman, and president of Lockheed-Martin, one of the most powerful defense companies in the world. Hewson's strategies helped the company see significant growth. There's no question that her work brought this company significant success. Since ascending to the role of CEO in 2013, Lockheed-Martin's market cap doubled. She has since retired from her roles in the company.

 

Ursula Burns

1958 -

Black women are notoriously absent from executive teams—it was only in 2009 that Burns became the first Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She began working at Xerox in 1980 as an intern and ascended through the organization, eventually becoming the CEO from 2009 to 2016. She remained chairwoman until 2017, when she left the company completely. She has served on the boards of some of the world's most recognizable companies, including American Express, ExxonMobil, Nestle, Uber, and many more.

 

Marissa Mayer

1975 -  

A prominent figure in technology, business, and executive leadership, Marissa Mayer is one of the most influential self-made women of our time. She has worked with some of the most well-known household names but gained retained notoriety as Google's first female engineer in the company's early days. She later served as CEO of Yahoo! Before cofounding Lumi Labs, an incubator that studies AI and media intelligence.

Six Business Books by Women

This March, we're celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting the great work that women have accomplished in the workplace. See more great content about the impact of hardworking women here.

It's no secret that some of the world's greatest writers have been women. From impactful works of fiction to hard-hitting journalism and elegant poetry to complex histories, female writers have penned incredible works of literary mastery. In the business world, women have been significantly underrepresented, but as those tides change, it becomes increasingly important to listen to the wisdom of women who have found success.

Here's a selection of business books to inspire personal growth and positive change in the workplace and beyond. National Business Furniture employees recommended these works to keep us striving to be our best.

 

1. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

by Herminia Ibarra, Recommended by Heather B., Marketing Director

Let's eliminate the adage of "dress for the job you want" and focus more on thinking, acting, and truly being the leader you've worked hard to become. In this book, Herminia Ibarra offers insight into how to change your thinking and working style to bolster your leadership skills. Using small-but-crucial changes, Ibarra implores you to learn through action while thinking about what kind of work is important, how to invest your time, and why relationships matter in cultivating your leadership skills.

2. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

By Amy Cuddy, Recommended by Desiree C., HR Generalist

It's time to stop worrying about the impression we're making on others—instead, it’s time we start to think about the impression we make on ourselves. In Presence, Amy Cuddy tells a variety of stories about individuals who learned how to succeed during stressful times that felt difficult. By reframing behavior, mindset, and body language, we can harness the power of presence.

 

3. Write It Down, Make It Happen

By Henriette Anne Klauser, Recommended by Shantelle B., Customer Service Specialist

When starting with a goal and aiming for success, you can follow simple steps to get your plans in motion. Sometimes, those steps are as simple as taking pen to paper to get what you want. These stories of people reaching their dreams all started with putting their plans on paper, so how can you get started with your journey toward success?

4. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

By Jen Sincero, Recommended by Anne S., Director of Customer Service

If you couldn't tell by the title, Jen Sincero's cheeky appeal to a fulfilling life is a wild ride that will ultimately help you reach your full potential (and what that means to you). These bite-sized bits of brilliance guide you through building a life that you love by loving yourself, all while interjecting a little bit of humor to put emphasize enjoyment.

5. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity 

By Kim Scott, Recommended by Eileen B., VP of Business Intelligence

There are enough stories about horrible bosses and power-hungry leaders out there, and in her bestselling book, Kim Scott shows you how to be the best boss possible. Building compassion, cohesion, and collaboration is integral to creating an energized and efficient workplace that starts with a great leader. 

6. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

By Arianna Huffington, Recommended by Jamie M., Sr. Inventory Specialist

So what does success look like? How can you tell if you're successful or on your way toward it? Arianna Huffington redefines this idea of success in the workplace and adds to it the importance of being more than a hefty salary and an elegant office. By managing the idea of what success should look like, it's more tangible and reachable than you ever thought possible.

Now Trending: Employee Wellness Rooms in the Office

Did you know that 92% of employed Americans confess that aspects of their workspace make them unhappy? As a result, businesses are taking extra measures to improve their workplaces, striving to create environments where great work happens due to employee satisfaction. Among new measures taken, companies across the country are taking employee health at the office into consideration by incorporating bookable wellness and mothers rooms to the office. If you’re considering adding one or more of these spaces to your office, keep reading for inspiration and ideas for what you’ll need to get the job done.